Prosecutor indicates appeal against Chief Magistrate’s sentences in firearms and ammunitions case
There was discontent expressed inside as well as outside the court Tuesday morning when 57-year-old Sealy Matthias was given 10 sentences for ammunition possession and two sentences for firearm possession, all of which amounted to a period of three years and five months in prison.
Inside the court, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche showed his dissatisfaction as he informed the court of the prosecution’s intention to appeal the sentences.
Minutes later, outside the court, some viewed the sentences as light and the view was expressed that Matthias was given a “slap on the wrist.”
The expressions of dissatisfaction came after what the Chief Magistrate described as “extremely serious,” the offences in the situation where police seized from Matthias a loaded shotgun, a Smith and Wesson firearm and a total of close to 400 rounds of ammunition of various calibre on July 7, this year.
Chief Magistrate Browne said the court had “assessed the seriousness of the charges” which resulted from the defendant’s actions.
“These offences are extremely serious and it must be highlighted. They are extremely serious. And the Court of Appeal has reinforced that in almost all cases of a similar nature coming before it.
And, after considering the precedence set by this court and the Court of Appeal and the seriousness with which they view these offences, and being guided by the sentencing guidelines, the starting port of the court was imprisonment for four years.
The court then assessed the aggravating features of the offence. It was noted that the time of day when this offence occurred. It was in the day when the defendant was intercepted – daylight at the scene of an accident the police were called to investigate. And it was as a result of the defendant’s suspicious behaviour further search was conducted and a loaded gun was found on the back seat of the car,” Chief Magistrate Browne-Matthias said.
She noted that the loaded firearm was found at a time when there was a motor vehicle accident and tempers could have flared and the situation could have gotten out of control.
“The court also noted the quantity of firearms – being two; and the quantity of ammunition, 406 rounds in all.
“This is an extremely large quantity of ammunition for a non-licensed holder and more than one firearm for a non-licensed holder,” she said.
The Chief Magistrate said that another aggravating feature was the fact that ammunition and a gun were found very well concealed at Matthias’ home. She noted that the house was protected by dogs which could only be meant to be a deterrent to anyone getting close and entering.
The Chief Magistrate said that regarding the offence there was no mitigating factor and there was no aggravating factor with regards with the defendant. She said the mitigating factor for the defendant was fact that he had no antecedent.
The Chief Magistrate noted that the defendant pleaded guilty to the crimes after three appearances. She noted that as a result he would not be accorded the full discount of one-third on sentence but would get one-quarter instead.
She said she considered a notional starting point of four years in prison and would add three months for each aggravating factor and deduct two months for each mitigating factor.
The calculations arrived at a sentence of four years and seven months for each of the firearm offences. With the one-quarter discount, it brought the sentence for each firearm to three years and five months.
The sentences for the ammunition were: nine months for the 10 rounds of .44 ammunition; 18 months for the 31 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition; three years for 107 rounds of .44 ammunition; three years for 200 rounds of .22 ammunition; 18 months for 25 rounds of .38 ammunition; nine months for 10 rounds of 9mm ammunition; eight months for six rounds of .44 ammunition; nine months for 12 rounds of .357 ammunition; four months for two rounds of .32 ammunition, and four months for three rounds of .380 ammunition.
The Chief Magistrate ordered that the sentences run concurrently. As a result of the sentences and how they are to run, Matthias’ term of imprisonment is essentially three years and five months.
Matthias was represented by lawyer Michelle Fife.