A 22-year-old man from Marisule, Gros Islet was yesterday fined a total of $32,000 after pleading guilty to being in possession of illegal firearm and ammunition.
Sherwyn Jn Baptiste was ordered by Magistrate Sharon Gardner to pay $15,000 forthwith or five years imprisonment for the possession of a firearm without a license, and $17,000 payable by December 30, 2012 or seven years imprisonment for possession of ammunition without a license.
Similar charges against two other men – 28-year-old Donovan Joseph of Grand Riviere and 20-year-old Kendall Phillip also of Grand Riviere – were dropped by the prosecution after they pleaded not guilty.
According to the prosecution, a 9mm Ruger pistolwith 10 rounds of ammunition were discovered during a search of a vehicle and its occupants on the Bexon highway on Oct. 30, 2012.
The vehicle, a yellow Chevrolet Spark motor car with registration number PG9066 , was stopped at Deglos Junction at about 1:40 p.m. by officers of the Traffic Enforcement Team who were acting on information while on mobile patrol.
The occupants of the vehicle – Jn Baptiste, Phillip and Joseph (the driver of the vehicle) – were arrested and charged with one count each of possession of a firearm without a license and possession of ammunition without a license.
In court yesterday Joseph and Phillip pleaded not guilty to the charges while Jn Baptiste pleaded guilty.
Attorney for the trio, Martinus Francois, asked the magistrate for a non-custodial sentence for Jn Baptiste, whom he said is only 22 years old, a first-time offender, lives with his sister, and has a disabled father whose sole caretaker is Jn Baptiste’s mother.
The defense attorney further stated that, in his opinion, no useful purpose would be served by handing down a prison sentence to Jn Baptiste. He said Jn Baptiste would be exposed to hardened criminals who would have a powerful influence on his young mind.
In sentencing Jn Baptiste, Magistrate Gardner noted that while the starting point for this type of offense is usually a custodial sentence, beginning at seven years, it is also at the discretion of the judge to take all circumstances into consideration.
Gardner said she took into consideration that Jn Baptiste plead guilty thereby saving the State the cost of a trial, he has no previous convictions on record, and that he showed the ability to take responsibility for his actions.