The illegal gun Novon Neuo Neblett had with him over seven years ago will cost him $16 500.
Justice Randall Worrell imposed the fine on the Lower Estate, St George resident on Thursday. He had previously pleaded guilty to having the .25 semi-automatic pistol and one bullet.
The 28-year-old must pay $15 000 in five months for the firearm and $1 500 in three months for the ammunition or he will spend the alternative of 1 097 days in prison which is the remainder of a six-year starting sentence.
“At the time I was not thinking how I am thinking now. I cannot justify it. I wasn’t really thinking for myself at the time. I am sorry for my actions,” Neblett said in the No. 2 Supreme Court this morning after Justice Worrell asked him why he needed such a weapon.
The first-time gun offender explained that there was a shooting in an area where he was located and he had acquired the gun for his “protection”.
Police were conducting traffic checks along the ABC Highway on January 5, 2015 when they observed a vehicle with four occupants travelling towards the Norman Niles roundabout. Officers followed and signaled for the driver to stop and he complied.
State Counsel Romario Straker in reading the facts told the court that Neblett was sitting in the right rear seat of the vehicle. A search was requested of all those onboard to which they agreed but nothing illegal was found.
After obtaining permission to search the vehicle, lawmen found the gun under the seat where Neblett was seated.
“Officer this is mine,” Neblett said when asked to account for the firearm. For the bullet he told officers, “That came with the gun”.
Questioned further, he said: “I had put the gun under the seat. Nobody knew it was on me.”
He also revealed that the individual from whom he had purchased the weapon had died.
Mitigating on Neblett’s behalf attorney-at-law Desmond Sands urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence on his client.
He said that Neblett cooperated with police at the time of the investigations and took responsibility for his actions. The defense attorney said that his client was 20 years old at the time of the offence, was now gainfully employed and “had tried to make amends for his misstep”.
He further stated that Neblett pleaded guilty and had not wasted the court’s time. “Sometimes the hardest thing is to accept responsibility . . . and he has done that.”
The attorney added that while the convict had priors they were not of a similar nature to the current offence. The firearm, he said, was not used in the “furtherance of any criminal activity”.
Sands added, “He honestly believed that he was protecting himself but has come to the realization that was not necessary . . . and that there were other alternatives.”
The attorney then submitted that a fine in the region of between $10 000 and $15 000, be imposed for the offences.
Straker, who was the prosecutor in the case, told Justice Worrell that while he agreed with the aggravating and mitigating factors put forward by Sands, he varied on the sentence.
He agreed that a fine could be substituted as an alternative punishment to a jail sentence on the first-time gun offender.
However, the prosecutor suggested that a $15 000 fine be imposed for the illegal gun and $2 500 for the ammunition. The amounts he submitted should be paid in three to four months.
After considering the sentencing submissions of both sides Justice Worrell told Neblett that the court would not impose a custodial sentence but a fine based on several factors.