A shop keeper of Paul’s Avenue was spared a custodial sentenced but was ordered to pay in excess of EC$13,000 for being in possession of an unlicensed 8mm pistol, and 2913 grammes of cannabis.
Cameron Providence, 62, appeared in the Serious Offences Court on Monday, November 14, before Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne and pleaded guilty for being in possession of one Valtro 8mm pistol without a license issued under the Firearm Act; and for the violation of Section 7(3) of the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act, Chapter 284 of the Revised Edition of the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2009 for being in possession of 2913 grammes (6.4 pounds) of cannabis with the intent to supply it to another.
He was snagged in a police raid in Paul’s Avenue last Thursday, November 10.
Before his sentencing on Tuesday, November 15, his attorney, Jomo Thomas entered a plea in mitigation to the court that Providence “does not deserve to be incarcerated” as the mitigating circumstances outweigh the aggravating factors in the case.
He said Providence has had no previous convictions; had cooperated with the police; and he was unaware that the pistol was unlicensed.
Thomas also said that a fine would be suitable for the possession of the marijuana and 16 months should be taken off his sentencing due to these mitigating factors.
However, Prosecutor Renrick Cato informed the court that “A fine should not be an option.”
Cato reminded the court that St. Vincent and the Grenadines had gone under six years of gun amnesty and that the defendant has had the weapon at his home for seven years.
“Hardly a week will pass without somebody being arrested for possession of a firearm,” Cato informed the court.
Ballistic Expert, Julian Cain explained that the weapon is a ‘well kept’ 8mm semi automatic firearm which holds a maximum of 50 metres, capable of discharging one live round of ammunition by the squeeze and release of the trigger.
He stated that “The firearm is designed to kill.”
Cain added that the real matter of the situation is that Providence had the weapon at his home and emphasised that the case is a charge of possession, and not ownership. He also said that one Mr Morris, a person who was claimed to have given Providence the weapon for safe keeping, should have taken the weapon to the police rather than to the defendant.
The Chief Magistrate used the sentencing guidelines from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in helping to determine the sentence, and Providence was granted one-third (EC$666) reduction on the gun charge.
This left the sum of EC$10, 333.34 which was then rounded off to EC$10, 330 which the Paul’s Avenue businessman is required to pay.
The Chief Magistrate ordered Providence to pay EC$5000 forthwith with the remainder to be paid by January 31, 2023; failure to do so will result in imprisonment for eight months.
On the cannabis charge, Providence was fined EC$4,500 but was granted one-third reduction (EC$1,500), leaving him to pay a fine of EC$3,000 by December 19, in default of which he will spend four months in prison.