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St. Lucian slapped with prison sentence on firearm and ammunition charge

Ruben William, a St. Lucian man residing in Dominica has been slapped with a three-year jail sentence on a charge of possession of firearm and another three years for possession of ammunition, both sentences to run concurrently.

The Copthall resident appeared before the Roseau Magistrate Court along with another St. Lucian Cleus Remy charged with possession of a Remington 20 gauge shotgun and possession of one live round of 20-gauge ammunition. The prosecution had earlier opted for trial in the matter and remanded both men in prison pending the Court’s decision on bail. However, when the St. Lucians reappeared in Court on September 29, 2023, the case was withdrawn against Remy and a sentence was passed against Williams.

The facts of the case are, that on September 22, 2023, Police Constable Laurent along with other members of the Drug Squad and Task Force were conducting mobile patrols and vehicular checkpoints duty on the West Coast. At about
5:45 p.m., whilst patrolling in an area along Cuba Road, Mero, Constable Laurent noticed a white single cab pickup registration number TN623 coming in his direction.

The officers disembarked the vehicles and signalled the driver of the said vehicle to stop which he did. PC Laurent identified himself and the others to the occupant of the vehicle as Police Officers and instructed him to switch off
the engine and Williams complied. He was asked to produce his driver’s licence and motor vehicle insurance and he replied “Officer, a rental that there.” PC Laurent then asked the driver if he had anything illegal in the vehicle or on his person he replied, “no officer” However, Williams then began gazing in the other direction which caused PC Laurent to become suspicious.

The officer instructed the men to exit the vehicle for a search. While conducting the search, he observed a grey sack positioned behind the driver and passenger seats. PC Laurent proceeded to fold the seat forward, revealing a long and solid object within the sack. Inquiring about its contents, the Officer asked Williams who replied, “Officer, it’s a thing I have there.” Removing the sack from the vehicle, PC Laurent opened it and discovered a single black and brown 20-gauge shotgun.

Laurent asked the defendant whether he had a license to possess a firearm and ammunition with respect to the said firearm and he replied “No” Under caution he further stated, “A partner that borrow me that when I was working for him at St. Joseph because we had some pigs eating our produce on the farm.”

Upon removing the firearm from the sack, the officer unloaded one live round of 20-gauge ammunition which was loaded in the magazine tube of the firearm, which Williams said “came with the gun.” The St. Lucian man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and ammunition without being the holder of a valid firearm licence. Williams along with the firearm and ammunition were taken to police headquarters.

During the course of the investigation, PC Laurent confirmed that Williams was not the holder of a firearm license.
A written interview was conducted with him in the presence of his attorney Julien Prevost. At the conclusion of the police investigation, the charge of possession of firearm and ammunition without being the holder of a firearm licence was preferred against Williams. During the hearing, Defense Attorney Prevost, in his plea for mitigation, implored the court to exercise mercy in its dispensation of justice.

He said, Williams who migrated to Dominica shortly after the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017, has assisted the country greatly during the rebuilding stages. The attorney pleaded for a non-custodial sentence for the St. Lucian man who he said is just recovering from a medical illness. Prevost further averred that it is not in the public’s interest to impose a custodial sentence against Williams as he is a “useful” member of society and is very remorseful for the situation he found himself in. The defense lawyer further urged presiding Magistrate Michael Laudat to impose a “reasonable fine” with time to pay. However, in handing down his decision, the Senior Magistrate lamented on the increase in gun-related activities in Dominica.

He said the court recognizes the urgent need for measures that address and mitigate this pervasive issue, ensuring the protection of citizens and the restoration of community security. On the charge of possession of a Remington 20 gauge shotgun, Williams was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years. On the second charge of possession of one live round of 20-gauge ammunition, he was further sentenced to three years in jail. The order of the court was that the sentences will run concurrently.