Father of three, caught with semi-automatic gun, jailed for 5 years
A father of three has been imprisoned for five and a half years after he was caught with a semiautomatic rifle at Barrouallie last Tuesday, February 18.
At the Serious Offences Court last Friday, Evander Myers, 28 pleaded guilty to having one spike tactical AR-15 rifle, serial number Jack 08703, a prohibited weapon, in his possession without authorization of the Minister.
The court heard that on the date in question, at approximately 10pm, Corporal 403 Nigel John, received information with respect to a white Nissan, plate number PW750. As a result, the Corporal and other members of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) went to the waterfront in Layou, in an unmarked vehicle, and waited. At about 10:30 pm, the police saw the vehicle driving from the direction of town, and followed it.
The corporal was driving the unmarked vehicle, and when the white Nissan stopped near the vicinity of the Barrouallie Primary School, he saw a chance. He pulled in front of the Nissan to prevent it driving forward, and quickly alighted the unmarked vehicle.
Two persons were in the Nissan, the defendant was in the passenger seat beside the driver, and he appeared to be fiddling with something by his feet. The Corporal reacted, saying “Police keep your hands where I can see them,” and the two men obeyed. A multi-coloured bag in the possession of the defendant with a plastic back protruding was quickly grabbed by the Corporal, and he ordered the two men out of the vehicle. They alighted. A search revealed the rifle wrapped in a t-shirt and a garbage bag.
After the driver told the defendant “Skull own your ting”, Myers stated “Is my own.”
Addressing the court, ballistics expert Sergeant Caine noted that the magazine capacity was 30 rounds, and the maximum effective range, 550m. The rifle can fire in both a semi and fully automatic capacity, the officer stated.
“This firearm: it is designed to kill,” Caine said, adding that it was mostly used by paramilitary and military organizations and had been used in mass shootings in the United States. He also asserted that the back of the weapon was extendable, that the weapon could easily be concealed.
Attorney Ronald Marks disagreed with Caine, saying there were two versions of the gun, and that the one with the longer muzzle is the one used for the mass shootings. The Sergeant said he hadn’t seen pictures of the guns used.
Marks insisted that the gun in evidence was used in close combat. He and Sergeant disagreed on whether a longer muzzle could increase the range of the firearm.
Marks told Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne that they accept that the weapon has great potential to do harm, but he said in its current state, without a magazine or bullets, a cutlass would be a more effective weapon.
The lawyer said his client, a resident of Vermont, said he had seen someone hide the gun in a gutter when he was drinking in Brighton. He chose to retrieve the bag, and was driving home when the police caught him.
“It was something very foolish that he did and he says, your honour, he really didn’t know the nature of the weapon,” Marks stated.
Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche countered that the maximum sentence on summary conviction for the offence was 10 years incarceration.
The prosecutor questioned what a firearm like the AR-15 would be doing in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He reiterated that when the trigger is pulled, it is possible for 30 bullets to come out at once. “One squeeze. Pow. Everybody gone,” he commented, adding “What would we want that here for?”
Marks had asked for leniency, and the prosecutor a sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offence.
After doing calculations based on aggravating and mitigating factors, the Chief Magistrate landed at a sentence of five years and six months in prison.
A confiscation order for the AR-15 rifle was made.