A 21-YEAR-old Glen resident caught in a minivan with a bag containing two loaded firearms, has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Kelike ‘Dads’ Browne, a first time offender, appeared before the Serious Offences Court (SOC) on Wednesday, April 28, where he pleaded guilty to five charges.
The young storekeeper had one .45 Taurus revolver; one 9mm sig sauer semi-automatic pistol; 16 rounds of 9mm ammunition; two rounds of .45 ammunition; and three rounds of 10mm ammunition in his possession without a license under the Firearms Act.
At 12:45pm on Monday, April 26, a party of Rapid Response Unit (RRU) personnel, led by Corporal 615 Williams, acting on information received, went in search of minivan HW295. While in Glen, the Corporal spotted the minivan while it was setting down passengers.
She approached the vehicle with the other plain clothes officers, and they identified themselves. She spotted Browne sitting in the back of the minivan, with a onestrap black and white Nike bag at his feet. The Corporal asked him to exit the vehicle with the bag, but the young man pushed the bag under the seat in front of him while exiting. When a search of his person revealed nothing strange, the Corporal retrieved the bag, which she questioned Browne about. The 21-year-old admitted that the bag was his.
A search revealed two guns. A full magazine was removed from one of the firearms, and the police also noted that the gun had one bullet in the breach. These bullets together amounted to 16.
As it concerns the Taurus revolver, the barrel of the weapon was filled with five bullets, three rounds of 10mm, and two rounds of .45.
Browne had revealed that he was given the bag to drop somewhere, but admitted that he had seen the guns inside it.
Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche, commended the Corporal on her work, telling the RRU officer in court, “this one good”.
It was also noted that after picking up the young man with these firearms, the officers went to Browne’s home to conduct a search. This move, despite being without a search warrant, was proper according to the law.
“She didn’t need a warrant; she did not need a warrant there,” the prosecutor said.
“Again brilliant work,” he commented, explaining that there had been reasonable grounds, so the police
were able to search his home according to the Act.
Counsel for the defendant, Charmine Walters, provided some background for the court on her client. Browne is the last of four children for his parents, and he is said to reside with his mother at Glen.
“Mr Browne is from a broken family in that he was single-handedly raised by his mom without any help from the father,” she revealed. After dropping out of Secondary School in form three, he has been providing for his family by working as a storekeeper. He assists his mother, who is currently unemployed.
Speaking on her client’s character, Walters said what she can attest to is that, “…from attending church camp with us in 2019, he would have exhibited some good traits. He was on the road of becoming a member of our church. Since from 2019 he has been coming to our church….”
She acknowledged that the offence is serious, “especially given the fact of what is currently going on in Glen,” (presumably the homicides using firearms) but asked that the court considers his young age, and the issue of peer pressure. Despite this being no excuse for his actions, the lawyer said: “I think he still deserves a second chance”, being a first time offender and with no indication that he would reoffend.
“I also want to state that Mr Browne would have expressed his remorse when I visited him at the station when he first was arrested,” Walters said.
In assessing seriousness, the attorney asked the court to consider that no one was harmed, and her client did not use the weapon to endanger anyone, and the weapon was merely in his possession.
The offences usually attract a jail sentence, and the counsel therefore pleaded that if this be the case, a short prison term be imposed.
On the other hand, the prosecutor acknowledged that the defendant was young, and had no previous run-ins with the law.
But, “actions have consequences…” he stated, and the seriousness of the offences ought not to be lost in the defendant’s youth. “…As my learned friend rightfully put it, given what is happening on the ground in that particular community, and throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines…” he said, noting that homicides had climbed to 12 for the year at his last count.
“…we are only into four months of the year, and that gives an average of three per month in population of 110,000; that is serious,” Delplesche commented.
From his general knowledge, these crimes are mostly firearm related, “and the victims are all young people.
“…a message has to be sent, and we cannot be wary of sending that message,” he stressed.
It is also always in the forefront of the court’s mind that the Court of Appeal, a higher court than the Magistrates courts and High Court, has indicated, “…we are having too much gun related crime in our little one by one country.
“And the young people must feel if they can’t hear. Why you want gun for?!” the senior prosecutor questioned as he ended his submissions.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, stated some of her considerations for sentencing, including what the defendant did when he realized guns were in the bag; that the offences are serious; that he is young; had a clean record; but also that he was carrying two loaded firearms. All of this and other factors would be weighed using the sentencing guidelines for the offences.
In order to ponder these things, she adjourned the matter until Friday, April 30, when she pronounced the sentence.
Three years incarceration for possession of each firearm; 12 months for possession of the 16 rounds of 9mm; four months for the two rounds of .45; and six months for the three rounds of 10mm, was the decision of the court. All terms will run alongside each other, meaning three years is the maximum time the defendant will spend in prison.
A confiscation order was given for the firearm and ammunition.