Crown Counsel Rudolph Burnett says a strong message must be sent to persons charged under the Firearms Act as society is under threat from the associated offences.
He made the comment is his submissions on sentencing in the case of 20-year-old Jahzeel Akeem Ward, of No. 22 Apes Hill, Orange Hill, St James. The young man had pleaded guilty in October last year to having a pipe gun in his possession on January 26, 2019 while at Endeavour Main Road in his community.
“The citizens of this country are currently under threat. Almost everyday there is a firearm offence being committed and a strong message should be sent to show in a strong way, that this will be no longer tolerated,” Burnett said as he addressed Justice Randall Worrell in the No. 2 Supreme Court.
Ward listened to the prosecutor’s submissions via Zoom from his location at HMP Dodds while his attorney-at-law Arthur Holder and his parents listened.
Burnett told the court that the firearms examiner concluded that the weapon was a homemade pipe gun. He said this was a “significant” aggravating factor as Ward had the weapon in his possession in a public place.
“This creates [more of] a danger to the public, than a firearm that was produced by a noted manufacturer. As far as I know there are no qualified gun manufacturers on this island,” the prosecutor. He revealed that when questioned by police about the reason for having the weapon Ward gave some “strange language” which indicated “he was not all together there”.
“Now we have a big problem here, a man walking around with a gun that is homemade and a man who appears to have a psychiatric problem with a homemade firearm. Now, he maybe pointing his gun in one direction and the bullet maybe travelling in another,” the prosecutor said about Ward who had admitted that he knew that he needed a licence from the Police Commissioner to have the gun.
“But he stated that some men wanted to do him something and he actually named two persons . . . . There is some indication that he was willing to use this firearm,” Burnett added.
He said under the circumstances a starting sentence of five years in prison should be imposed on Ward for the crime but it should also be increased by a year due to the fact that the aggravating features outweighed the mitigating factors. He said however that the gunman should be given credit for his guilty plea and the time he had spent on remand.
The prosecutor also pointed to areas of concern in the probation, psychological and psychiatric reports.
“I believe that whatever treatment that is required for the now convicted man can be had in prison. The prosecution firmly believes that a controlled environment is best suited for this now convicted man at this time,” the Crown Counsel added.
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