The Serious Offences Court will, on Monday, sentence a man who took a licensed firearm holder’s pistol from his vehicle and discharged three rounds in the air.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne will hand down her sentence, having heard, on Thursday, a proposal by defence counsel Grant Connell that his client be fined.
But Prosecutor Station Sergeant of Police Renrick Cato argued strongly that the defendant, Damian Glasgow, a 33-year-old mechanic, of Glen, be jailed for 21.8 months.
When pushed, the prosecutor appeared to reluctantly disclose that his analysis of the sentencing guidelines had also led to a fine of EC$8,340.
Meanwhile, Ashford Wood, a justice of the peace who appeared as a character witness, told the court that Glasgow is “a quiet chap” who made a mistake.
Glasgow was remanded in custody until his sentencing.
He pleaded guilty to charges that on Jan. 31, at Calder, he had in his possession a 9mm pistol without a licence and that he discharged a loaded firearm in a public place, to wit the Calder Public Road.
The firearm was still loaded with 28 rounds of ammunition after Glasgow discharged the three rounds.
However, unlike in other similar cases relating to possession of an unlicensed firearm, he was not charged in connection with the ammunition.
His lawyer argued that Glasgow was under the influence of alcohol when he committed the crime.
‘I haven’t seen you in a long time.’
The facts of the case, as read by Cato, are that Carl Davis, of Richland Park, owns a Glock 9mm pistol and is the holder of a permit to keep same along with 50 rounds of ammunition.
Davis and Glasgow are friends and on the day in question, around 1 a.m., Davis stopped his vehicle along the public road near Judge’s Bar, in Calder.
He had the firearm on him and exited the vehicle and placed it under the driver’s seat.
As Davis was walking away from the vehicle, he met Glasgow who hugged him, lifted him up and said, “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
Davis asked Glasgow to put him down, which he did and went to get a lighter to smoke.
Glasgow then proceeded to Davis’ vehicle and removed the firearm from under the driver’s seat.
While Glasgow was standing just outside the vehicle with the firearm, uniformed Special Services Unit officers were in the area on duty and PC Edwards stated that he saw the defendant with a firearm raised above his head and he heard three loud explosions sounding like gunshots.
The police transport came to a halt. Edwards alighted the transport, made ready his service pistol, pointed it at the defendant, walked towards him and the defendant threw the firearm back into the car.
The officer approached him while other police officers went to the car and retrieved the firearm.
The firearm was fitted with an extended magazine, which had been loaded with 31 rounds of ammunition. When the police checked the firearm in the presence of the defendant, it had 28 rounds remaining.
Glasgow, the firearm, the ammunition and the three spent shells were taken to the Central Investigation Department and handed over to PC Edwards at CID for further investigations.
Glasgow had no previous conviction, Cato told the court just before he sat down, indicating the end of the facts.
“Where is the footage?” Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne asked.
The prosecutor asked for the investigating officer, saying he had spoken to him about the footage.
However, the defence counsel presented a disc with the footage and the prosecutor did not object to it being shown.
The footage showed that Glasgow had already replaced the firearm when the police arrived on the scene.
‘a little intoxicated and out of character’
In mitigation, Connell pointed out that the firearm was present in court but not the magazine.
“That would be interesting to see — the extended magazine,” the chief magistrate said.
She stood the matter down and told the prosecution to get its house in order.
When the matter was recalled, Connell continued his mitigation, saying that Glasgow is the father of three children, ages 3, 5, and 7.
He noted that his client pleaded guilty at first opportunity, was apologetic on the scene and cooperated with police from the very beginning.
Glasgow had no intention of causing physical harm, Connell said, adding that there were no aggravating features of the offender, while mitigating on Glasgow’s behalf was his good behaviour.
The lawyer said that though at the time of the offence Glasgow, was “a little intoxicated and out of character”, he was not saying this to reduce the seriousness of the offence.
“Clearly not, with the intoxication,” the chief magistrate commented.
Connell responded that the state that Glasgow was in, he had the understanding but the ignorance and folly was occasioned by his own act.
The lawyer asked the court to consider that there was no indication that Glasgow took possession of the firearm to cause injury or harm to anyone.
‘only two dogs were present’
He said that the defendant’s action post discharge of the firearm was indicative of him being shell-shocked.
Connell said that it would have been good to have had the extended magazine in court as he himself had never seen one.
The lawyer submitted that in the circumstances, though the court is exposed to various cases where custodial sentences were imposed, in the extant case, the court should not strictly adhere to the length of custodial sentences it usually imposes.
“The video is very instructive. Thankfully, the defence was able to provide the court with it,” Connell said.
“What is interesting, he is a friend of the firearm holder who stops his vehicle on the block, parks on a police no-parking sign, leaves his car running, leave his licensed firearm and extended clip of 31 [rounds of ammunition], he seems to not understand that every round is a life.”
The chief magistrate said: “Your application is to have his license revoked?”
Connell said that was not the case, adding that he did not understand how licences are granted.
The lawyer said that according to the video, it took three seconds for Glasgow to assume the position to discharge the firearm and “only two dogs were present — closest human was 31 feet away”.
Connell said that his client had the firearm in his possession for 14 seconds and appeared shellshocked after discharging it.
He said Glasgow’s replacing the firearm was not triggered by the presence of the police.
“… if it was a bunch of trigger happy police, that man would have been dead,” Connell said.
He said that the footage shows Glasgow’s simplicity in that when the police had their firearms trained on him, he was bending over picking up the spent shells.
“If it was not a man of this calibre who had taken that out, they would never see the firearm again, it may have been used. It is frightening,” he said, adding that Glasgow has to be given credit even for his action after discharging the firearm.
The lawyer said that the holder of the firearm licensed left the weapon on the seat of the vehicle, but none of this seems to be of interest to the court.
Connell asked for a suspended sentence, saying that jailing Glasgow would “through him off.
“This is not the normal case. He had no criminal intent. It was a stupid act.”
‘Strong drink is raging’
In his comments on sentencing, Cato said:
“I will start simply with a quote from the scripture. ‘Strong drink is raging, wine is a mocker and whosoever is deceived by it is a fool.’ And counsel’s own words, ‘every bullet is a life’.”
The prosecutor noted that it is the duty of the court to “analyse, examine, assess” each case on its own merit.
“But the offence of possession and discharge of firearm, whether you have it in our possession for one or 10 seconds, the circumstances, the defendant endangered his own life and there were other person around at that bar, Judge’s bar.”
Cato said that while he is not a doctor, the way that Glasgow walked towards Davis and lifted him, up he could “see he had in some alcohol.
“A man under the influence of alcohol, armed himself with a gun loaded with 31 rounds of ammunition,” Cato said, adding that had Glasgow taken up the firearm, look at it and put it back, the situation would have been different.
“He took up that gun, raised that gun, and, as you see, he didn’t fire one shot; he fired three shots in the air.”
The prosecutor noted that the country is going through the COVID-19 pandemic, adding, “… but firearm and firearm offences more infectious than COVID at this time.
“I am tired over and over again, firearm and firearm-related offences. It is also the duty of the court to set examples, for persons who cannot control alcohol and find themselves in these kinds of positions where they commit these types of offences.”
Cato called on the court to send a strong message to the public regarding firearm offences.
He said that in his opinion, the fact that Glasgow was under the influence of alcohol was an aggravating feature.
The prosecutor said that the Crown and the defence, in their discussions, differed on sentencing.
“I am still of the view that based on the nature of the offence, possession of firearm, discharge of firearm, public place, that the sentence should not be one as such that was made by the defence,” Cato said, rejecting the defence proposal of a fine.
The prosecutor, however, said that he did not do the calculation to propose a sentence.
The court stood the matter down to allow Cato to do so and he came up with 21.8 months in prison and, for a fine, EC$8,340.
‘Damian made a mistake’
Connell invited the court to hear the character witness evidence of Ashford Wood, of Gomea, one of Glasgow’s primary school teachers.
Wood, who is also a justice of the peace, said that Glasgow is engaged in productive work as a trucker.
Glasgow takes care of his children and assists his parents who sell in the Kingstown Vegetable Market in transporting their goods.
Wood said he was driving home when he got a call about Damian being involved in a shooting.
“My first reaction was, ‘Not Damian.’ Knowing about him, watching him grow up, he is a quiet chap, a bit cheeky at times, but he chooses the crowd with which he limes, not a drunken crowd.”
Wood said he is involved in organising a number of community competitions in which Glasgow participates.
He would have “a beer or two but nothing to get overzealous with alcohol.
“In summing up, what I would say is that Damian made a mistake. Yes, we understand he made a mistake but Damian is not a gun-wielding individual…” Wood