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Gun possession lands Diamond woman in jail

Gun possession lands Diamond woman in jail

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Diamond resident Fiona Jack Chewitt used both hands to wipe tears from her eyes, after she was sentenced to nine months imprisonment on a gun possession charge.{{more}}

The sentence was handed down to the 25-year-old mother of two, on Monday at the Serious Offences Court.

At her first court appearance, Chewitt pleaded not guilty to possession of a 6 mm firearm, which was found in her possession on April 21, 2013.

However, she changed her plea to guilty when she appeared in court earlier this week.

The facts read out in court, state that a police officer from the Stubbs Police Station received certain information and, as a result, headed to the Diamonds/Stubbs area.

The court heard that Chewitt was met walking along the public road. A police officer instructed the transport to stop, which it did. The officer then approached her and requested permission to search her bag.

According to information heard in court, the police officer asked Chewitt twice if she had anything illegal in the bag, and both times, she said no.

However, in a compartment of her bag, the weapon was found.

When questioned, Chewitt said she had found it in some bushes near her fence and intended to give it to the police.

Mitigating on her behalf, attorney Ronald Marks said that his client was in a long-standing feud with the neighbour and has made several reports to the police.

Marks said according to his instructions, on the date in question, Chewitt saw the neighbour “hiding” something in the bushes near her property. He said his client went to see what it was, and found the gun.

Marks said her intention was to carry the weapon to the police, and further stated that she went to the police station that same day, but did not turn the gun over to them.

Marks said Chewitt is the mother of two children, ages eight and two. He further added that she lives with her mentally ill mother and is the sole bread winner of the home.

The court was also told that Chewitt operates a catering business and has a small shop, of which she is the sole proprietor.

“This gun is of an extremely small calibre. It’s one of the smallest I have seen in this court and no ammunition was found. The expert evidence was that they could not find ammunition for that. He said he never saw a weapon of that calibre….,” Marks pointed out to the court.

Marks said he realised the seriousness of the charge and asked court to bear in mind the special circumstances he outlined.

“Any imposition of a custodial sentence would mean her daughter would be left with her mentally ill mum. I’m asking court to impose a non-custodial sentence… There’s nothing before this court to say Miss Jack [Chewitt] was not an upstanding citizen prior to this”.

Chief Magistrate Sonya Young, however, said when Chewitt picked up the gun, she knew she had children and a mentally ill mother.

“I don’t understand how she went to the station and walk back out with the firearm. She could have reported that she saw the neighbour put this thing there and they should come get it… I can’t ignore what is happening in St Vincent and the Grenadines. A gun of that calibre can kill. ..,” Young said.

The magistrate said she could not overlook the fact that Chewitt was out in public with the firearm.

“It’s nice, small and easy to conceal. She had it in her handbag. I would like to have one like that. I can put it in my waist and nobody could tell. Why would you give me a story that I can’t believe?” the magistrate questioned.

“My conscience doesn’t sit well with me giving you nine months. I always try to be fair… It is only because I believe in equality of the law why I am not putting you there longer,” Young added. (KW)

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