Jamaican convict says men gave him AR-15 assault weapon to stash
A Jamaican national must complete five years’ imprisonment for possession of a semi-automatic prohibited rifle stored underneath the bed of his rented apartment, before he is deported.
Linford George Robinson, a 38-year-old carpenter of Jamaica, appeared at the Serious Offences Court(SOC) last Friday, February 12, where he was sentenced.
Robinson had admitted that he, on February 9, at Gibson Corner, was in possession of a Zaviar AR-15 rifle, a prohibited weapon, without the authorization of the Minister, as well as 60 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, also prohibited.
On this date Robinson had been one of three men in a vehicle that was tracked by the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) from Rillan Hill before it was stopped in Questelles. In this vehicle, the RRU found 832 grams of cannabis, claimed by one Erasto Nero of Edinboro, an occupant of the vehicle.
However, at 4:31 pm on the same date, Corporal 615 Williams led a party of officers to the apartment rented by the Jamaican, located in Gibson Corner. They executed a search of the premises, with Robinson showing them his room. He gave the police the keys to unlock the door to his bedroom, and under his bed a wooden box was found by the Corporal. This was opened to reveal a transparent plastic bag containing the rifle, which was loaded with a magazine. Also in the bag was a second loaded magazine.
The firearm was dusted for fingerprints by the Corporal and PC 245 Dasent, a fingerprint expert, examined the weapon. Robinson’s prints were not found on the rifle.
“Officer is some men bring it for me to hide” the Jamaican had told the police.
Station Sergeant Julian Cain, a ballistics expert, provided information on the prohibited weapon to the court. The gas-operated semi-automatic rifle is new and well-kept. A part of it was removed so as, the theory is, to make it easier to conceal. It is similar to the type of gun used by the military and similar firearms have apparently been recorded in a lot of mass shootings around the world.
In court, the 38-year-old offender displayed constant twitching movements with both his arms as he faced Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne for sentencing.
His lawyer, Grant Connell, mitigated on his behalf.
According to Connell, his client travelled in to St Vincent in September 2019 for a holiday, having been invited by a friend and he was cleared by immigration to stay for six months. He had apparently booked a flight to leave the country on December 26, but he had to get tested. It is said that there was a delay, thereby making him unable to make this flight.
On the date that Robinson’s stash was discovered, the counsel posited that his client “did not carry the police on any wild goose chase or mislead them, he cooperated with the police and led them directly to the firearm.”
Connell also argued, “The firearm was found in the bosom of his bedroom, under his bed, never used, never brandished, never removed from its initial place.”
In noting that the firearm had been dusted for fingerprints, and Robinson’s prints were not found on the rifle, the counsel concluded “It’s obvious, he never even touched it.”
The counsel also later noted to the magistrate that a point for consideration was that factors indicate it was “possession as a result of coercion, intimidation and exploitation of this simple and humble Jamaican, a visitor to our shores.”
He questioned whether the “clanging of metal doors” would have the “desired effect” on Robinson, who he said is not a hardened criminal, but someone who came here legitimately and mixed with wrong company.
Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche also had a chance to provide some comments on the matter of sentencing.
He began his contribution by commending the work of Corporal Williams. “Good work, excellent work, commendation is due,” the senior officer of justice said.
Turning to Connell’s mitigation, he noted “as eloquent as it was, the seriousness of the offence ought not to be lost in those qualities.”
He questioned how the prohibited firearm got to our shores, what the purpose of it was, why someone in St Vincent would have such a firearm, why a visitor came to our shores and is found with a firearm of that kind.
These are all questions to be answered, Delplesche said.
On the issue of the fingerprints, the prosecutor noted that the lack of his fingerprints does not necessarily mean Robinson did not handle it, but rather he could have used gloves.
After standing the matter down for some time, the magistrate called Robinson back to the dock to deliver her sentence.
She began at 75% of the maximum sentence and then considered the aggravating and mitigating factors.
In her consideration of mitigating factors for the offence she disclosed that she had found none as the operation was as a result of information received which Corporal Williams used to intercept the vehicle with the three men. The corporal then executed a search warrant of the small apartment. The magistrate did not deem it to be a matter of cooperation.
However, she did take into account Robinson’s previously clean criminal record and expression of remorse.
The Jamaican also pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and this affords an offender a one third subtraction of their sentence.
Browne handed down a sentence of five years imprisonment for possession of the firearm and two years for the ammunition. These will run at the same time.
On completion of this sentence, Robinson will be deported.