The actions of a first-time offender in obtaining an illegal gun and 45 rounds of ammunition have left a High Court judge perplexed.
“I am baffled when I read through his pre-sentencing report . . . it is just baffling that he finds himself in this position.
“This is probably the one per cent report that you get where he received education, he left Barbados, he completed his education in Canada and he is here . . . it baffles me.
“It is not to say that he doesn’t know that possession of a firearm or ammunition is wrong. If he can do this, then what about the others who don’t have the level of education that he has, the level of commitment that he has to his family?” Justice Worrell asked in the case of convict Damien Troy Vaughan.
The 31-year-old, of Mayers Road, My Lord’s Hill, St Michael previously pleaded guilty before the judge for having a Glock semi-automatic pistol and the rounds of 9 mm ammunition on June 6, 2019.
Today, he apologised for his actions and explained to the No. 2 Supreme Court the chain of events that resulted in police finding the weapon at his residence when they executed a search warrant.
Making it clear that he was guilty, Vaughan explained there was no justification for having the items but when the “opportunity” to possess a firearm was presented he did not give it “much thought”.
“At the time, my cousin, a very close friend, lost his life in . . . January 2019. At that time, I thought to myself maybe it would not be such a bad idea to have such an item in my possession for the protection of myself and my family,” he said explaining that he had also been robbed twice.
“I took it upon myself to meet a total stranger and take [part] in the unlawful act. When you know better you should do better . . . due to a lack of better judgement I took steps to go forward and obtain the illegal item.”
He declared that not only was he guilty of possession but also guilty of letting his close friends and family members down especially those who believed in him.
“But most importantly, I have failed my son as well as myself. My son who so proudly looked up to his father . . . I have failed and disappointed him in so many ways.
“When asked the questions as to where was I for his third birthday, where was I for his third Christmas and where was I for his very first day of school, I have not yet come to an explanation as to how I will enlighten him [about] missing some of the most important, yet memorable moments of his toddler stage,” Vaughan admitted.
He said he was a family man, a hard worker and a productive contributor to society.
Vaughan added, “I just want to say that I am truly sorry for the mistake that I have made and I understand my wrongs and I throw myself at the [mercy] of the court and whatever is done today I humbly accept.”
In her sentencing submissions defence counsel Safiya Moore said her client made an “emotional” decision following the death of his close friend and his personal experiences.
However, she said in his case the mitigating factors far outweighed the aggravating factors.
Mitigating she said was that he had no previous convictions, he offered an early guilty plea, cooperated with the police and had been assessed at a low risk of reoffending. The attorney said the aggravating factors of the case, apart from the possession, was the quantity of ammunition which she admitted was “excessive”.
Given those factors her submission to the court was for her client to pay a fine for his crime but if the Court believed a custodial sentence was in order, she suggested a starting point of seven years with the necessary credits to be given.
Senior Crown Counsel Olivia Davis agreed with the aggravating and mitigating factors but suggested a period of imprisonment of eight years.
The prosecutor submitted that if the court was looking to impose a fine then the Crown would have “no great difficulty”.
“But it has to be a figure that reflects the seriousness of the offence and acts as a deterrent,” Davis said.