The Fair Hall man who police met last May wearing a mask in a car in Kingstown with a gun, two magazines, and 36 rounds of ammunition, was on Tuesday sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for his crimes.
Colin “Cocoa” David, 31, will, however, only serve a five-year jail term, the longest of his prison sentences, which will run concurrently.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias handed down the sentences three months after finding David guilty of charges that on May 5, 2017, at Kingstown, he had in his possession one 9mm pistol and 36 rounds of 9mm ammunition, without a license issued under the Firearm Act.
The man was initially sent to the High Court for sentencing, where he would have faced a maximum term of 20 years in prison.
But the High Court reverted the matter to the lower court, where the maximum sentence is seven years in prison and a fine of EC$20,000.
In mitigation, defence counsel Grant Connell told the court that his client is the father of two children and is a virgin to the law.
After the court pointed out that David does have a criminal record, Connell later amended that submission to say that David had no convictions of a similar nature.
The lawyer said that at the time of his arrest, David did not resist arrest or attempt to abscond.
Connell told the court that while his client had exercised his right to a full trial, thereby forfeiting the one-third automatic reduction in any sentence given to someone who pleads guilty, he was throwing himself at the mercy of the court and asking for leniency.
The lawyer said that in the case of Randy Shallow and Freikesha Douglas, who were convicted last year of possession of a number of firearms, including a prohibited weapon, the defendants were sentenced to five years in prison for a weapon of a similar type as David had.
He asked the court to be mindful of that sentence, unless the magistrate was minded to explore the avenues of the law and impose a fine.
Connell said there were no aggravating features in the case and suggested that his client should not a get a sentence longer than four years in prison.
Meanwhile, in his submissions on sentencing, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche cited the comments of the Court of Appeal this year regarding the pervasiveness of firearms and firearm-related crimes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
He further told the court that he disagrees with the defence counsel who had said that there were no aggravating features in the case.
Delplesche noted that David was among three other persons in a car parked in Kingstown with a false number plate, the engine running, and a driver at the wheel.
“Why?” the prosecutor asked as he mentioned each of those facts.
He pointed out that the car was parked in “the heart of Kingstown” at “high day time”. The prosecutor further observed that David had a firearm containing 15 rounds of ammunition and also asked why was this the case.
“All these, I submit, your honour, are grave aggravating factors,” he said, adding that this is what the Court of Appeal was speaking about when it said that there are too many gun crimes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
He said that in light of the law that he had outlined and the precedent set by the Court of Appeal, it was then within the magistrate’s purview to impose a sentence that she thought appropriate.
The chief magistrate sentenced David to five years for possession of the firearm and two and a half years for the ammunition.
The sentences were handed down on a day when the prosecution removed from the court’s list a matter in which Gershon Calvin Cole-Woods was a defendant.
Cole-Woods was one of the other two persons in the car in which David was nabbed last May.
A firearm and ammunition charge was brought against him, but Cole-Woods has been unaccounted for since last August 2017.
Also on Tuesday, David was among three persons discharged at the preliminary inquiry stage on a charge of attempted murder of Jawansa “Sanga” Fraser who was shot in his neighbourhood of Paul’s Avenue last October.
The accused were discharged after Fraser failed to turn up to court for yet another time.