A state’s attorney has argued that a gunman who pointed his weapon at police in a bid to prevent his lawful apprehension should get upwards of 17 years in prison.
“Police officers are tasked with responding to calls to service and are duty-bound to act upon those calls. I submitted that it is an appalling and gravely aggravating factor when police respond to calls for service and in carrying out their duties their lives are placed in danger especially when one would point a firearm in their direction.
“This is a case where the now convicted man pointed a loaded gun not once but on two consecutive occasions, in the direction of police who were pursuing him
“We must inculcate within the minds of our people that respect must be had for law enforcement especially when carrying out duties. We depend on the Barbados Police Service to keep this country safe and their roles are important,” state’s attorney Kevin Forde said on Thursday as he addressed Madam Justice Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell in the No. 4 Supreme Court.
The prosecutor submitted that the St George resident Astu Jones be given a starting sentence of eight years in prison for possession of a .38 revolver; eight years in prison for possession of three rounds of ammunition; nine years on two counts of assaulting police officers and 15 years for use of a firearm with intent to prevent his arrest. The sentences are to run concurrently for the offences which occurred on July 11, 2020 in the parish of St George.
Forde said given that the aggravating factors far outweighed the mitigating factors the sentences should be adjusted upwards by two years.
The prosecutor said however, that the convicted man, who has five convictions for theft and burglary should be granted a one third discount for his guilty plea and credited for the time he has spent on remand at Dodds in connection with the crimes.
But Jones, who addressed the court and pleaded for leniency, urged the High Court judge to show him mercy by imposing “a non-custodial sentence or a fine with the strictest of conditions”.
He said: “I want to extend my heartfelt apologies to everyone affected. However, I am standing before this court today with a heavy heart . . . because I committed a serious crime.”
The convicted man told Justice Bovell that he was a “changing man” who had seen the errors of his ways.
“I am a changing man, a man with a new outlook on life, a man with a new respect for life and a better attitude. My outlook is that I see a better way to handle situations with a brighter prospective.
“I want to admit that I am where I am today because of the friends I used to be associated with . . . although I knew right from wrong I still allowed myself to be led astray. Your Worship once again I accept full responsibility for my actions . . .”
He claimed that, “as hard as life is in prison” he found it to be a “blessing in disguise” because he has learnt the “true meaning” of responsibility.
“I have found a better version of myself. . . . I am going to do my upward best to abstain from ever being caught up in any wrong things again. I have spent this time reflecting on my life and the mistakes that I have made . . . You know that I pleaded guilty early because I know what I did was wrong and I was very ashamed of what I have put my family through.
“Your Worship, if this court in sentencing grants me a chance to gain my freedom not only will I become a shining light but a new person but also use that opportunity to further my education and coping skills. I am pleading to this court to extend its mercies and leniency towards me as this court sees fit,” he added.
Jones was first discovered with the weapon in an area of St George by an off-duty officer who reported the matter.
When the police responded they spotted Jones, who their colleague had described, in a crowd of people near a variety shop. On seeing them he ran and during the chase pointed the gun at two officers who had called for him to drop the weapon.