A former national footballer who pleaded guilty to possession of a Glock pistol that was stolen from the police armoury at Georgetown, will spend 18 months in prison for possession of the illegal firearm.
Myron Samuel, a 28-year-old shop keeper, was sentenced yesterday, August 16 at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court(KMC) after the prosecution and defense concluded arguments in the case on August 11.
Samuel’s lawyer Grant Connell, in mitigation, asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence on his client but the prosecution argued otherwise.
The maximum sentence for the summary conviction of firearm related offences is a fine of up to $20,000 or seven years in prison or both.
“The court is mindful of the fact that offences of this nature usually attract a custodial sentence save in cases where there is exceptional circumstances that would constitute significant mitigation,” Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett noted yesterday.
The offences are prevalent in the state, and the court was therefore also mindful of the need for deterrence.
The inference put forward that Samuel possessed the Glock 22 pistol LNL 144 and 15 rounds of .40 ammunition because of threats made to him, could not amount to justification or lawful excuse, and it signified an intention for him to take the law into his own hands.
Further, the penalties that Parliament prescribed for the offences weighed heavier than “powerful” submissions by defence counsel Grant Connell.
At the end of the sentencing process, the magistrate did not see a basis to depart from the norm of a custodial penalty for such offences.
Using the sentencing guidelines, the court began at a point of 2.8 years incarceration after placing the offence in category three, and starting at 40% of the maximum.
Aggravated by the possession of an illegally obtained loaded weapon, the sentence for the offence climbed by six months.
The fact that the ammunition was inside of the magazine and that there was a significant quantity, signalled to the court an intention to use.
The submission that there had been threats, indicates “an intention to take the law into his own hands if the opportunity arose. The court is of the view that this explanation exemplifies an intention to use illegal items for an unlawful purpose, the infliction of bodily harm or injuries should the need arise,”the Senior Magistrate noted. On the other side, “There was no evidence or facts given that the firearm
was used in the commission of any offence and was used in the infliction of any harm or the instilling of fear or apprehension of harm or fear to others.” Samuel had no previous convictions whatsoever, and co-operated with the police(although his choices were limited).
“Separate and apart from having no antecedents is a person of good character and reputable standing in his community,” Burnett stated. Samuel had been said to still be engaged in the coaching of young people in the community, despite a debilitating disease, avascular necrosis, that causes excruciating pain.
Additionally, documents had been tendered to confirm that the defendant is suffering from the illness and was making efforts to get medical treatment in Cuba.
A one third discount was also afforded as Samuel entered a guilty plea.
For the possession of an unlicensed firearm, Samuel will spend 18 months in prison. For possession of the ammunition, he was fined $3500 to be paid by December 31, in default of which he will spend nine months in prison.
Although Samuel was originally also charged that, knowing or believing one Glock 22 LNL 144 and 15 rounds of .40mm ammunition to be stolen goods, he did dishonestly receive it for his own benefit; this was withdrawn by the prosecution last Wednesday.
The agreed facts in this case do not reflect that he had knowledge that the gun was from a burglary of the police armoury.
It is said that the police were investigating the burglary of the armoury at Georgetown, from which three Glock pistols, an M4 Rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were reported missing. Several persons were detained and, having received certain information, the police were dispatched to Samuel’s home armed with a search warrant on June 17. The firearm and ammunition were found in Samuel’s possession, which resulted in him being arrested and charged.