Third person jailed for Georgetown police armoury guns
WITH A sentence of two years and five months incarceration imposed by the court last week Monday, Meshach Dublin became the third young person to be jailed for firearm related offences in connection with stolen firearms from the armoury at the Georgetown Police station.
Dublin is also one of two from these three to have had a previously clean criminal record; the other young offender had only a minor unrelated offence on his record.
The burglary of the armoury which triggered wide reaching investigations that netted four suspects, occurred in June. Following the volcanic eruptions in April, officers from the Sandy Bay and Owia police stations were relocated to the Georgetown police station, and firearms and ammunition from these two stations were taken to the Georgetown armoury to be housed. The firearms have serial numbers and had the name of the police station engraved on them.
On Wednesday June 2, an officer on duty was able to account for all firearms and ammunition in the armoury, but the following day it was discovered that some of the weaponry was missing. These included three Glock 22 pistols LNL 144, LNL 155 and LNL 151; 305 rounds of .40 ammunition, and an M4 rifle serial number W877775.
Based on information received by the Major Crimes Unit(MCU), Avi King was taken into custody. King, a 26-year-old resident of Diamond village admitted his involvement and is spending two years and eight months in prison.
King’s arrest led the police to Dublin, and Dublin led them to a cemetery in Diamond village where the M4 Rifle had been buried. The police were led to a home where a quantity of ammunition from the station was discovered. They were also given information which resulted in the retrieval of Glock 22 pistols 144 and 155, one of which belongs to the Owia station, and the other to the Georgetown station. However, it was noted that the engraved markings to identify the firearms as police property had been removed.
Dublin is a 26-year-old from Diamond village who lived with his parents. His counsel Jomo Thomas, revealed that he had a previously unblemished record and is self employed, rearing pigs and goats. Dublin passed the Agriculture and Physical Education secondary exit exams, and is known for his representation as an athlete. He has travelled to Guadeloupe and Antigua, competing in1500m, 5K and 10K events.
In the number of issues covered during his mitigation, Thomas wanted the court to accept that his client pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. Dublin was previously represented by a different counsel,and had pleaded guilty at his first appearance. However, his family wanted him to retain a different counsel, and therefore Thomas was taken on board. The lawyer explained that he felt that his predecessor had given sound legal advice in recommending that Dublin plead guilty, but he wanted to convince the prosecution to drop some of the charges against the young man.
He was successful and Dublin, unlike his co-accused King, faced only three charges concerning the possession of two Glock pistols, LNL 144 and 155, and the M4 Rifle.
Thomas revealed that his client is remorseful for what he has done.
“I remember the first hearing I had with him in Kingstown, his dad came…” Thomas said, “… his dad said, ‘Now you see what you put yourself into?’ and Meshach’s response was ‘Dad, I am sorry for what I did and I want to apologise to the court and I want to apologise to my father, my mother and the society.’” He pointed out that Dublin co-operated fully with the police, and he did not waste judicial time.
“He’s 26 years old, he’s in the prime of his life, and he certainly would have a chance to think about the difficulties he has gotten himself in…” Thomas also noted.
Considering the sentencing guidelines, he reasoned that the offences should be placed in the lowest categories, and that a starting point of 40% should be adopted.
He acknowledged as well that the Court of Appeal has outlined that a prison sentence is always suitable in gun related offences.
In mitigation Thomas stressed that his client was coerced and intimidated. Dublin, he said, “was not a party to the initial act of removing the guns or even transporting the guns from Georgetown police station,” and had intimated to him that he was coerced, intimidated by someone he knew, to engage in the enterprise of trying to dispose of the weapons.
Dublin asked Thomas to relay to Magistrate Bertie Pompey at the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court, that “he has embarrassed his family, he has embarrassed the society, he has embarrassed the village and he has also embarrassed himself.”
In all the circumstances, with Dublin not playing an integral role, the counsel reasoned that the court should not impose a sentence of more than two years.
Prosecutor Sergeant Renrick Cato emphasised the nature of the weapons that were before the court as explained by ballistics expert Station Sergeant Julian Cain. The M4, a prohibited weapon, has a maximum effective range of 550m, and a magazine capacity of 30 rounds, with bullets of 5.56mm.
The Glocks have an effective range of 50m, and a 15 round capacity.
The disappearance of the weapons caused public alarm in the state, Cato recalled.
“We are now in 2021, when prevalence of firearm and firearm related offences is on a rise in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said. Having been stationed at the Serious Offences Court(SOC) for around three months, “there hasn’t gone one week where the offence of possession of firearm and ammunition is not present at the Serious Offences Court. And your honour there is a cry out, there is a cry out in the state.”
Further aggravating features were that the name of the police station had been removed from the weapons, and they are the property of the state.
“…The court, in my view, must, have to, should, send a strong message to persons who are in possession of a next firearm, and to persons who have the intention of having in their possession unlicensed firearm,” he concluded.
Dublin was taken into custody over that weekend and sentenced the following Monday, August 30, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.
For the offence that he, on June 17, at Diamond, had an M-4 Rifle, serial number W87775, he received a two year and five month sentence.
For the offence that he between June 2 and 17 at Sion Hill, he had a Glock 22, serial number LNL 155 in his possession without a license, he received a two year sentence.
For on June 17, at Kingstown, having one Glock 22 pistol serial number LNL 144 without a license, he was sentenced to two years in prison.
All terms will run concurrently.
Myron Samuel, a 28-year-old former national footballer from Layou, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of pistol LNL 144 and 15 rounds of .40 ammunition on June 17 in Layou.