A police action led by Corporal Lafleur Williams of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) last Sunday, resulted in one man being jailed, and a prohibited gun capable of wreaking unimaginable havoc being taken off the streets.
Urhando Rock, a 25-year-old farmer of Green Hill, was on Monday at the Serious Offences Court, sentenced to four years and three months for possession of a M92 Zastava AK pistol, a prohibited weapon, without the authorization of the Minister, contrary to Section 14 (4) (a) of the Firearms Act, Chapter 386 of the revised edition of the laws of SVG, 2009.
Rock was also sentenced to eight months for possession of two rounds of 7.62 prohibited ammunition, without the authorization of the Minister, contrary to the same section of the Firearms Act. The sentences will run concurrently.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne handed down the penalties after Rock pleaded guilty to both charges. He was unrepresented.
According to the facts presented earlier by Sergeant Atnel Ash, Corporal Williams, acting on information received, headed a patrol of officers comprised of members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Rapid Response Unit and the Special Patrol Unit, that went to Rock’s home at Green Hill, around 5:50am last Sunday.
On arrival Corporal Williams knocked on the front door and shouted, “Police, open the door.” She received no reply but heard movement coming from inside. She then kicked down the door and saw the defendant and his girlfriend standing next to a bed. A suitcase was on the bed.
After identifying themselves as police officers and reading the search warrant, Williams asked Rock if he had anything illegal to declare. He did not reply.
The officers conducted a search of the suitcase which was found to contain clothing, two multicolored pillow cases and a metallic object resembling a firearm. Williams continued the search of the suitcase and found two rounds of 7.62 ammunition. When cautioned, Rock told the officers somebody, three days earlier, had given him the gun and ammunition for safe-keeping.
“Me call him for the gun, and he nah come,” Rock had told the officers. He was arrested, taken to the CID and subsequently charged.
Ballistics expert Sergeant Julian Cain confirmed that firearm, which was uncovered in the suitcase, was an M92 AK pistol made in Serbia, and was in good working condition.
Sergeant Cain told the court on Monday that the gun could dispense 620 rounds of ammunition per minute.
Asked by prosecutor Renrick Cato to point out the firing range of the weapon, Sergeant Cain explained that if it was fired from outside the court building at Paul’s Avenue, it could reach beyond the walls of the Windward Bus Terminal, located on Lower Bay Street.
“It is a prohibited weapon with a caliber of 7.62 ammunition. It can wreak havoc. This firearm is designed to kill,” Sergeant Cain explained.
Rock told the court that the person who had given him the firearm to hold had just been released from prison.
Prosecutor Cato, in making his recommendation for sentencing, said that when the police knocked on rock’s door several times he did not answer, and the officers had to resort to force to get the door open.
Cato noted that possession of a prohibited firearm carries a maximum penalty of teen years in prison. He said that the court had a duty to protect the society and asked that a sentence be imposed to send a strong message to persons who have these types of firearms in their possession, and to deter others who may want to do so.
The Magistrate stressed the seriousness of the offence, and highlighted the fact that Rock tried to evade his arrest, when the police knocked on his door. She found no mitigating factors in relation to the offence.
However, in relation to the defendant, she took into account his youthfulness, and that he had no previous conviction. He also earned a one third reduction on his sentence for his early guilty plea.
The Magistrate arrived at the penalties after following the sentencing guidelines, weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors, and doing the necessary calculations.
“What is painful is when I see persons with no (criminal) record, foolishly throwing it away,” the Magistrate contended.