The “bright future” that his commanding officer predicted for a Vincentian Private in the British Armed Forces took a devastating blow last week after the soldier was convicted and imprisoned for possession of an unlicensed .45 pistol.
The soldier, Keithron Mills was nabbed with the gun on January 2, 2022 after 7:00 p.m after the police received a tip-off from a member of the public who called the police station in Georgetown to report that some men in a silver Suzuki jeep, RX531, were “shooting off” guns in Dickson Village. The member of the public informed the police that the vehicle was headed back into Georgetown. Police Constable 112 Bowens and Corporal 19 Archibald stood by the road in front of the police station looking out for the vehicle. At around 7:10 p.m, the corporal spotted the travelling vehicle, and PC Bowens stopped it. The police identified themselves to the driver, Mills, who was also the sole occupant of the vehicle. The corporal told Mills, who identified himself as a 29-year-old soldier, that they wished to conduct a search of the vehicle for guns and ammunition.
Mills told them the vehicle was a rental and did not belong to him, before consenting to the search.
During their search the officers found a .45 pistol on the floor under the driver’s seat. It bore the registration number AOC52189.
The Chester Cottage resident claimed ignorance of the weapon.
Mills said the only place he went to in Georgetown was to drop off his brother. The police spoke to his brother, who told them that they were not shooting off any guns and were not in Dickson Village.
The police interviewed the soldier, but he gave no statement.
Mills pleaded his innocence at the Serious Offences Court (SOC) on January 3, to the offence of possession of an unlicensed firearm and a trial was held on January 20.
Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne ruled on Friday, January 28, that “the court is satisfied that the prosecution has discharged its burden and the defendant is found guilty.”
It was then the duty of defence lawyer Duane Daniel to mitigate for his client. Mills was revealed to have been in the army service for two years. He is father to a five-year-old daughter, and is apparently expecting another child.
Daniel read aloud a letter written by the 29-year-old’s commanding officer, Major Terry Williams.
The Major outlined that Mills joined his Company in May, 2020 after completing the necessary course at the Infantry Training Centre. He later became a “vital asset” to the battalion.
“He demonstrated a keen intellect and professional competency well beyond what I would expect of a soldier of his seniority,” Williams’ letter relayed.
The Private recently returned from operations in Estonia as part of NATO enhanced forward presence battlegroup “where he showed exceptional determination and resilience, despite temperatures below minus 16 degrees Celsius.”
“He motivated all of those around him with characteristic enthusiasm and positivity, displaying leadership qualities that mark him out as a potential junior non-commissioned officer.”
The soldier is said to have earned high praise from all with whom he worked and had no previous discipline entries.
“I would rate his performance thus far as exceptional. I hope to have Mills back at the company soon, he is a highly valued and respected member of the team who has a bright future ahead of him,” the Major’s letter stated.
However, Williams noted at the end of his letter that if Mills is found guilty he would “regrettably be obliged” to take employment law action against him. He said that the entry point for any conviction resulting in custodial or suspended sentence is discharge from service.
Prosecutor, Sergeant Renrick Cato emphasised that the firearm was not registered in this state. He said that what is “striking” is that a concerned citizen pointed the matter out to the police.
Cato acknowledged that Mills “seems like an outstanding person in his profession. But these are the things that you ought to consider before you find yourself in situations that you know will hamper your position as a soldier.”
“Our little SVG has become so much… involved when it comes to firearm offences,” Cato also said, and commented that they were becoming as common as cold.
“…When you have someone who we expect to assist in the reduction of firearm and firearm offences contributing to the increase in firearms and firearm offences – the court must, have to send a message,” the prosecutor concluded.
The magistrate noted, “This is a most unfortunate offence, and a most unfortunate outcome for the 29 year old defendant. As the prosecutor said, actions have consequences.”
She said that it never gives her any pleasure to sentence offenders and in this case he had a glowing character reference.
“…So to have become involved in an issue like this which would have caused you to be brought before the court is really most unfortunate,” Browne said.
In applying the sentencing guidelines she began at a starting point of two years and eight months incarceration. This is because the offence fell into the lesser consequences category but the medium category when it comes to seriousness.
Aggravating and mitigating features of the offence were weighed and it was found that the aggravating outweighed the mitigating. The court therefore added six months incarceration.
However, the mitigating factors concerning Mills himself outweighed the aggravating factors, which were none. Consequently, the sentence was reduced by six months.
Therefore, the final sentence handed down is two years and eight months. A confiscation order for the firearm was also made.