Loaded firearm possession triggers jail sentences for youth
A young man forfeited the chance he was given at the High Court last year and now has to serve out two consecutive jail sentences because he was found in illegal possession of a loaded firearm and ammunition.
Ozem Oliver first made headlines when he was 16 years old, appearing before the courts of this country in 2018 on multiple charges.
However, before this week the young offender had only been convicted once- at the High Court on robbery and possession of an imitation firearm charges stemming from one incident.
Oliver, Andreas Bruce, and D’Andre Peters were sentenced before Justice Brian Cottle in October 2021 for robbing Denise Baptiste of Glen of her cellular phone. The incident that occurred on August 10, 2018, resulted in Oliver receiving a three year prison term for robbery. However, the judge figuratively placed the keys to his prison cell in Oliver’s hands. He did so by suspending the three year sentence so that it would activate only if Oliver committed another serious crime in the three year period after October 2021.
It has been around three months since the date he received that High Court sentence, but Oliver was picked up by the police last week for inquiries into other matters.
At the Calliaqua police station on the afternoon of Thursday, January 13, PC 134 Ballantyne informed the defendant that he wished to conduct a search of his home and premises. Armed with a search warrant, a party of police officers headed to Oliver’s residence in Glen. They met and spoke with his mother and read the search warrant to her. While searching the house Ballantyne observed one round of 9mm ammunition and one round of .380mm ammunition on the dressing table in the defendant’s bedroom.
“Ah my shots” Oliver said.
Further searching revealed that in a shopping bag on another table in the bedroom there was a loaded firearm, make and serial number unknown.
Oliver apparently said that it was his gun and he got it from someone to protect himself.
There were two rounds of 9mm ammunition and two rounds of .380mm inside the firearm.
Back at the police station the young man gave a detailed statement.
The firearm registry was checked and Oliver’s name did not appear there. The firearm was found to be in good working condition.
The defendant was charged with possession of the firearm, 3 rounds of 9mm, and three rounds of .380mm ammunition.
He explained to Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne that a few years ago someone tried to break and enter his home. He said he and his cousin were the only ones living there. Oliver said shots were discharged and his cousin got shot, that it was reported and nothing came of it.
It was pointed out to him that his aunt is a police officer.
The magistrate warned him not to come with any “hocus pocus” to the court.
“..When you come with these things, bear in mind and come correct because your family would know about any incidents like these.
Do not come with any hocus pocus to me. I don’t like it or appreciate it,” the magistrate told the young man.
The defendant insisted that this was the only reason, and that he was alone in the house because his cousin moved to Mesopotamia and his mother was in Trinidad.
However, when questioned further Oliver admitted that his mother returned in October/November.
It was pointed out to him that, according to his story, when he was given the sentence by the High Court he already had the firearm in his possession.
“And since you got that kind of sentence by the High Court it ain’t click over in your head,” Browne asked, “you going home every day since” with his mother there, “and you have a loaded firearm?”
The defendant also mitigated saying “I wasn’t going out, I wasn’t shooting anybody, I wasn’t killing anybody.”
Prosecutor, Sergeant Renrick Cato reminded him that he said he had the gun for protection.
“Home wise, home wise. Nobody going to trouble me out on the street but home wise…” Oliver replied, “Burglary does happen.”
The following day, Wednesday, January 19, the prosecutor, in his submissions, focused on the fact that the defendant knew he had a firearm at home in his possession while the judge was speaking to him on October 25, 2021. He knew and still didn’t dispose of it.
Cato said that the gun he had was not only loaded, but there was also ammunition in separate areas. The prosecutor concluded that in his opinion Oliver did not have any level of respect for the sentence of the court.
He also said that firearm offences are so common that every week there is at least one matter of this kind before the court.
The prosecutor asked for a strong message to be sent, showing zero tolerance.
The magistrate quoted Cottle’s final words to Oliver at the High Court and asked him if he remembers and understood that. Oliver said he did.
Browne told him that she has confirmed therefore that he was under no illusion as to the terms of his sentence.
When handing down the sentence she considered all circumstances, and began at 60% of the maximum or 4.2 years. Aggravating factors outweighed mitigating for both offender and offence and nine months was added to the starting sentence.
Oliver’s guilty plea at the first available opportunity reduced the term to a final figure of three years and seven months in prison.
Oliver was also given eight months on the ammunition charges. However, all will run concurrently.
His suspended sentence of three years was also activated.
Therefore, he will spend a total of six years and seven months in jail.
The magistrate told him to use this as a period of reflection and rehabilitation.