Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett says there is nothing wrong with the court inviting the prosecution to address it before sentencing a convicted person.
“When I sit here, I believe that a part of my responsibility is to educate as well,” Burnett said at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court in Friday during the sentencing hearing of an 84-year-old man who had pleaded guilty one week earlier to possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
Reading handwritten notes, Burnett said that from time to time he sees queries when he asks the prosecutor to address him on sentencing.
The magistrate said that, in his opinion, the prosecution has an important role, just as the defence, to play in sentencing.
“So, there is nothing wrong with the court calling on the prosecutor to address it on issue of sentencing,” he said.
He said that in this regard, the prosecution’s role is limited to presenting the relevant material to the court and ensuring the court is aware of the maximum and minimum of sentence for the particular crime.
“It is up to the court to decide whether a custodial sentence is suitable,” the senior magistrate said.
“That remains a judicial matter.”
Burnett said that whether or not the accused person is represented, sentencing is the purview of court.
“It belongs to me. I accept or reject any submission.”
In the extant case, during submission one week earlier, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche had said he was not looking for a custodial sentence for Hermus Patrick, 84, of Layou, who had pleaded guilty to possession of an unlicensed .38 revolver and 115 rounds of .38 and .25 ammunition.
For the firearm, Burnett sentenced Patrick, a veteran of the US and British armed forces, to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months.
For the 115 rounds of ammunition, he fined Patrick EC$12,000 to be paid by Dec. 31, 2019 or 12 months in prison.