Defendants change plea after cop presents ‘superb’ evidence in court
It was only after IT specialist and forensics expert PC 377 Angello G Duncan took the stand and gave impeccable evidence against two accused of gun toting, did the duo recognize defeat.
The Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias, and legal representation for the defence, Grant Connell, both rained high praise on the police constable for the way in which he gave evidence before the court.
Connell did so during mitigation, after accused persons Deshawn Slater, 20 years, and Leron Barrow, 25 years, both of Green Hill, changed their plea from not guilty to guilty mid-trial.
The lawyer commented that the PC’s evidence was refreshing, and unlike the police force. He said that because of the officer, a full trial was saved, which would have been detrimental to the defendants.
“I have never experienced a constable giving that grade of evidence to the court,” Connell commented.
The attorney continued that it shows that rank is not a “reflection of merit” and ability, and that a constable of 16 years preparing that level of report, should send off alarm bells to the “powers that be.”
The chief magistrate also praised Duncan, saying “kudos to PC Duncan for his presentation to this court,” describing it as “very professionally done.” She noted that he had even made sure that the videos were very clearly visible to all in court. “His delivery was just superb,” she emphasized.
She repeated that it was fantastic, and commented that she does not think that she had seen such delivery before. She commented that he could be anywhere, in any court in the world and give that delivery, “keep that up,” she ended.
Slater and Barrow were nabbed by PC 863 Gonsalves, and a party of police officers, on February 3 this year, at 9:30 am, in the area of Wilson Hill, Kingstown. The police had been waiting for them to reveal themselves, after they had received certain information. Slater noticed the police transport, and ran away, throwing the firearm away, but was eventually caught after a long chase.
However, when in police custody, he said that it was the other person he was with, Barrow, who owned the firearm. The firearm was loaded, and the two were charged with possession of a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver, and five rounds of .38 bullets.
PC Duncan gave evidence of firearm pictures retrieved from both Barrow’s and Slater’s phones.
The two changed their plea on Monday, but were sentenced this Wednesday. Browne-Matthias said that she assessed that Slater’s role was much more significant, but took a starting point of a custodial sentence for both of them.
She noted that it was a group activity, and “there was some degree of planning between both of you, and as came out through the evidence of the IT specialist.”
Levelled against the duo was also the time that the offence occurred, “It was 9:30am, on a Saturday morning, yes, however, that in itself is aggravating to me because there seems to be wanton disregard for the public, or persons passing around, or being in the vicinity. There’s an element of reckless abandon in your carrying on.”
Further, the location was also mentioned, the duo having been walking in a school district. “Present in the area have you four secondary schools, one preschool, one special institution, two primary schools, St Mary’s and Stoney Ground,” the chief magistrate stated, noting that lessons and extracurriculars could have been going on.
“Blaming others – yes I indicated it’s a group activity, but of note would be your attempt to pin it on somebody else when cautioned. When cautioned he said, “Officer, personally, the gun not mine, is the other boy own,” she continued.
Slater had been released recently after serving a three year sentence for firearm possession. “I would have thought you would have learnt,” the magistrate told Slater.
One tenth was taken off for the late guilty plea, although the chief magistrate commenting that the change was made at the end of the prosecution’s case, and that the defence could have chosen not to give evidence in any case.
It was remarked that if the specialist had given evidence at the beginning of the prosecution’s case it might be different, to which Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche replied, “Saved the best for last your honour.”
Slater was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, and Barrow was given three. Both were given ten months jail time for the ammunition, to run concurrently to the first sentence.
Browne-Matthias added that it was disturbing to see young men in court for “these types of offences,” and stated that she was going to recommend counselling for them in prison.