There are fresh concerns about young people appearing in viral videos boldly brandishing firearms.
Justice Carlisle Greaves expressed the concern on Friday as he ordered one such individual, Jaquan Antonio Richards, to pay a total of $25 000 in fines for having an illegal .32 semi-automatic pistol and seven rounds of ammunition on November 6, 2017.
Of the amount, the Lascelles Terrace, St Michael resident had to pay $15 000 immediately for the gun possession charge or spend the alternative of three years in prison. The remaining $10 000, which was imposed for having the bullets, must be paid in three months or Richards will face the same prison sentence.
According to the facts disclosed to the court, police received information on the mentioned date about an illegal fete taking place in the Pine, St Michael in an area known as Slam Dem Base. It was reported, according to Senior Crown Counsel Neville Watson who held the case for his colleague Rudolph Burnett, that persons in attendance at the fete were encouraged to openly brandish firearms.
When the police arrived at the location, party goers ran in various directions and Richards, who was 17 at the time, was seen running with a gun in his left hand. He stopped when ordered to do so by the police.
When asked to account for the loaded weapon, he said: “Officer, I see de police coming from the front and I know that I had a gun pun me so I run out back there and see wunna. Somebody holler and tell me drop it, so I dropped it right there.”
Justice Greaves expressed concern about the incident.
“This case disturbs me. I happen to see some of these videos around Barbados with these men brandishing these firearms at these clubs and so on. I mean, I thought it was Baghdad. I had to verify that this was really Barbados. A bundle of people with guns of all kinds showing off, firing off in the air . . . like if this is gun city,” the judge said just before Richards apologised.
The convicted gunman said: “I made some bad choices in the past. I would like to apologise today. I was hanging around the wrong company at the time doing the wrong things. That life wasn’t for me. I went to jail . . . I learnt from it. . . I reflected on it, it made me change.”
The prosecution had recommended the fine and Richard’s attorney Shadia Simpson agreed with the sentence. However, she informed the judge that her client had not come with the forthwith amount.
“If you are bold enough to carry around a firearm and show off and things like that, you must be bold enough to be carrying a pocket full of money or spend a bundle of time in prison. You cannot come down here on a firearm offence and not be ready for the serious consequences,” Justice Greaves said.
“The carrying of firearms unlawfully in this jurisdiction is too serious a problem and too dangerous a disposition for any of our offenders to feel that they will come into these courts or they can carry around these dangerous items . . . and be treated like any ordinary offender. Some of you are already fortunate not to go to prison immediately for a substantial period of time. To stretch it further in your mind that you are going to be given some long time or time to pay is to carry the ridiculous too far,” he added.
Richards was told that he will be released when the $15 000 is paid but he will have to return to the High Court for a review on August 6 to show proof of payment of the remaining fine.