Justice Randall Worrell today commended the prosecution for its stance in a firearm case described as “peculiar” and “unique”, against two St Michael men who are currently serving time.
Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas today submitted that Mark Antonio Williams and and Kerry Omar Kismar Bowen should be sentenced to time served for their crimes. His submission came after attorney-at-law Angela Mitchell-Gittens who had represented the men pro bono urged the court not to add any more time to their April 2021 releases.
Williams, who is in his late 30s and Bowen, who is in his mid 30s, both of No 4 Arden Close, Pinelands, St Michael had moments before pleaded guilty to a joint charge of possession of an illegal pipe gun on May 11, 2011. Williams also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of having a second pipe gun on the same date without a valid licence.
Mitchell-Gittens informed the No. 2 Supreme Court that the men were currently serving a nine-year sentence for burglarising the Nation Publishing Company of $7,000. She explained that when the men were convicted in 2014, they had asked for the gun matters to be taken into consideration but for unknown reasons that did not happen.
“Given the peculiar circumstances . . . they were labouring under the misconception that [come] April 2021, they would be finished with everything.” The attorney added that the men were now trustees at the prison and were furthering their education by undergoing CXC English while Williams now had a certificate in building.
“We ask the court that whatever sentence is imposed that it is concurrent to the sentence that they are presently serving,” she said as she revealed that Williams was set to be released on April 24, 2021 and Bowen on April 17, that same year.
Thomas meantime described the situation as “unique”. He explained that such crimes did attract custodial sentences but in this case the mitigating features outweighed the aggravating factors and asked that time spent be the sentences.
“All sides conceded that these should have been dealt with in 2014,” Justice Worrell said even as he stated that such offences carried time in prison since regardless of the purpose for the guns they were unlicenced and unlawful.
The High Court judge sentenced Williams to 971 days and Bowen to 1,040 days, which is time that both men had served on remand for the offences.
“That is the sentence of this court, that is, to place it in time served because we will have to treat it as if it were a concurrent sentence. The court has to treat you as if this is a matter that came before it in 2014.
“We will treat you as time served . . .in accordance with the wishes of the Crown. The Crown is here to do a job but the Crown also realises that first of all that it is a minister of justice and it would be an injustice to have you start a sentence now,” Justice Worrell explained.
He added: “We would like to thank the prison officers for bringing this matter to the attention of the court. Thanks also to the prosecution for their approach to the matter; a very humane and just approach. We also have to thank counsel for the defence for again acting as a friend of the court, pro bono . . . Mrs Mitchell-Gittens, thank you.”
In outlining the facts of the unlawful possession of the firearms, Thomas revealed that police executed a search warrant at Williams’ alias Smokey’s home in his presence. In the backyard a black pipe gun was found between galvanise sheets. Asked to account he said: “I tek that from a man called Rat Bag and Kerry.” The search continued and another pipe gun was found in a four inch PVC pipe near to the back door.
“I mek that for my protection,” he told police at the time and maintained that he had never fired the weapon.
“I tell myself that if I keep this gun and the men come round me and I pull it, once dem don’t shoot back, that they would run away and get frightened for me,” he explained in a statement dictated to police and in which he also said he only made the weapon after “some men come down by me with guns and shoot some fellas”.
“I had to run for my life and had to jump over a fence…”
Bowen was also interviewed and he said: “The short one is mine and the long one is his,” pointing to Willams. He added: “It was down by he between some galvanise in the yard, is where I does keep it.”