Offences involving firearms will attract serious prison time, warned a High Court judge this afternoon.
Madam Justice Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell served notice as she sentenced Niko Antonia James, of Cane Vale, Christ Church to 20 years in prison for aggravated burglary of Ixora Restaurant at Golden Sands Hotel on January 6, 2018; several counts of endangering lives by discharging a firearm at the restaurant; as well as the aggravated burglary at Frankie’s Barber Shop on December 23, 2017.
However, after the judge took into consideration the aggravating and mitigating factors, credited James with a one-third discount for his guilty plea as well as the 1 028 days he spent on remand, the convict only has nine years and 67 days left behind bars.
Among the aggravating factors was that a gun was used in the burglary and was fired in a public restaurant where people had gathered to socialise.
“As a result, in excess of a hundred lives were placed at risk by the reckless discharge of the firearm,” the judge noted.
Another significant aggravating factor, she said, was that the firearm was not recovered and was therefore available to be used in the commission of other offences.
“The court also considered as an aggravating factor that, even at this stage, persons are still traumatised by the violence perpetrated on them. There are no mitigating factors to the offence,” Smith-Bovell stated.
However, she did note his age at the time of the offence – 18 years old –, his cooperation with police in their investigations, and his early guilty plea, among other factors.
“This sentence is appropriate, as a message must be sent to would-be perpetrators that members of the public should be free to socialise in public places like restaurants or barbershops without the fear of being subjected to terror and the risk of death by gun-wielding thugs. “
Offences involving firearms will attract serious prison time. Additionally, at the Golden Sands there was a visiting cricket team . . . . The person shot was the coach. Our economy is highly dependent on tourism, and all efforts have to be made to stamp out any anti-social behaviour which places our locals and visitors at risk of crime being visited on them while they are out socialising. The sentence of the court must serve as a deterrent on any like-minded individuals who seem to threaten our economy,” Justice Smith-Bovell made clear as she handed down the sentence in the No. 4 Supreme Court.
James, who has five prior convictions, four of them for similar offences, was also ordered to undergo an anger management programme and any another remedial programmes that may exist at Dodds to help with his rehabilitation.
This story has been updated to reflect the correct address of Niko James. He is not a resident of Block 1 Apartment 5, Country Towers, St Michael. James lives at Cane Vale. Christ Church.