Former national footballer Myron Samuel was today (Monday) released from prison after serving just under three months of his 18-month sentence for possession of an unlicensed firearm.
iWitness News was reliably informed that Samuel, 28, was released after appealing to the Committee of Mercy.
He is said to have cited to the Committee of Mercy the ongoing health challenges that his lawyer Grant Connell had raised in mitigation before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett when Samuel was sentenced in August.
When Burnett handed down his sentence on Aug. 16, he also ordered Samuel to pay a fine of EC$3,500 by Dec. 31 for possession of 15 rounds of .40 ammunition without a license, or spend a further nine months in jail.
Samuel was one of three people, including Meshach Dublin, aka “Shane” and “3D”, 26, of Diamonds, another former national athlete, who were jailed in connection with the theft of firearms and ammunition from the Georgetown Police Station in June.
On Aug. 30, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Bertie Pompey jailed Dublin for two years and five months for possession of three firearms, including an assault rifle, stolen from the Georgetown Police Station.
Two two-year sentences for possession of two Glock 22 pistols will run concurrent to the sentence of two years and five months for possession of one M4 rifle – a prohibited weapon.
And, on July 20, Avi King, 26, of Diamonds, who burglarised the Georgetown Police Station and stole one M4 rifle, two Glock 22 pistols and 305 rounds of ammunition was jailed for two years and eight months in prison for his crimes.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne handed down the sentence at the Serious Offences Court.
The chief magistrate told King that he had also benefited from his cooperation with police, his early guilty plea, and the mitigation of counsel Nakita Charles, who acted amicus on his behalf.
Meanwhile, in handing down his sentence on Samuel, Burnett said:
“This defendant has to be deterred from committing other offences of a similar nature and the sentence must demonstrate this, while other young men in SVG must, equally, be deterred from firearms and ammunition
Samuel was jailed just under a week after pleading guilty at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court to charges that on June 17, at Layou, he had in his possession one Glock 22 pistol, serial number LNL 144, and 15 rounds of ammunition without a license under the Firearms Act.
Samuel maintained the not guilty plea for a handling stolen goods charge in relation to the firearm and ammunition, as he had done for all three charges at his June 21 arraignment, at the Serious Offences Court.
The prosecution withdrew a charge of handling stolen goods in relation to the firearm and ammunition.
The firearm and ammunition were found at Samuel’s home as police conducted a raid as part of an investigation into the theft of three Glock pistols and one M4 rifle from the Georgetown Police Station.
The court heard that the firearm and ammunition that Samuel had in his possession were, in fact, stolen from the police station.
The magistrate had said that the aggravating features of the offence included the fact that the firearm and ammunition were illegally obtained, and Samuel had no license.
Further, ammunition was found in the magazine of the firearm, and there was no indication that Samuel had it for any lawful purpose or reason contemplated by the Firearms Act.
Burnett said that the fact that the firearm had ammunition in the magazine led the court to believe that the 15 rounds of ammunition were intended for use in the firearm found in Samuel’s possession.
He said that while Samuel’s counsel had said that his client had the firearm because he had been threatened, this could have had both favourable and unfavourable consequences as a sort of double-edge sword.
Burnett noted that the lawyer had said that Samuel had received several threats.
The court drew the inference that Samuel obtained the illegal firearm to protect himself and his family from an imminent threat.
The court said this indicated an intention to take the law into his hands if the opportunity arose.
The magistrate imposed the prison sentence, saying that despite the powerful mitigation by Connell, Parliament reflected the seriousness of firearm offences when it set a penalty of a fine of EC$20,000 or seven years in prison or both, on summary conviction.
Connell had argued that his client should not be sent to prison, as doing so would amount to a death sentence.
Samuel is suffering from avascular necrosis — a disease that results from the temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to the bone — and is trying to raise US$12,000 to travel to Cuba for medical attention, the lawyer said.
However, Police Sergeant Renrick Cato, who is also a prosecutor, told the court that he had never known possession of a firearm to be a treatment for an injury.
Cato, who was not prosecuting the matter, had risen towards the end of the submission by his colleague regarding whether suspended sentences are applicable in firearm cases.
Earlier, the prosecutor, Sergeant Cornelius Tittle had reasoned that there was no medical evidence before the court to definitively indicate that Samuel’s condition would automatically deteriorate should be sentenced to prison.
“We have a problem with firearms. Most of the murders in this country are as a result of firearms,” the prosecutor pointed out, as the defence counsel objected to the word “murders”, suggesting “homicide” instead.