(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- Two weeks after Her Honor, Magistrate Yasmine Clarke sentenced a young Nevisian athlete and a University student to prison, two more will join him at Her Majesty’s Prison after being found guilty for gun possession at the District ‘C’ Magistrate Court.
On Tuesday, June 24, 2014 thirty-one year old Gavin Herbert of Bath Village and twenty-two year old Deon Walters of Stoney Grove appeared before Magistrate Clarke to answer charges of firearm and ammunition possession.
Deon Walters pled not guilty to all counts and he was represented by Attorney John Cato. Gavin Herbert also pled not guilty to all counts but he was unrepresented; and as a result he had to fight the court alone.
Police Prosecutor Stephen Hector called his first witness, Constable Antonio Browne, to give evidence.
Constable Browne testified that on Sunday, December 22, 2013 he was on patrol duty along with Constable Jasper Carty and as they were driving from Bath Village heading to Charlestown he saw two persons in dark clothing in the vicinity of ‘Elements’. According to the Constable, both defendants were walking with a weed-eater. Browne said he stopped the police transport and he shouted ‘Police, don’t move’. He stated that Deon Walters dropped the weed-eater and he started to run in the directions of Skantel Ground also known as the ‘Villa’. Browne said Carty took chase after the defendant and they both disappeared out of sight into the darkness. Here, he instructed Herbert to get on the ground. A few seconds later, Carty returned with Walters apprehended. Both officers cautioned the defendants about the weed-eaters and they replied ‘We found them’. Both men along with the findings were taken into police custody.
On arrival at the station, Browne said he received some information and as a result he returned to the area where he had Herbert grounded. At that said area the officer said he saw what appeared to be a firearm. Constable Carty cautioned the fellows and asked them about the findings, to which Herbert responded “Officer is my gun it be, I live in a house at Bath Village where a man got shot down and it is for my protection” but Walters remained silent. Browne further stated that Herbert went on to describe the firearm even before it was shown to him. Both men were transported back to the police station where Herbert signed the evidence box but Walters refused.
Brown told the court that sometime after 5:00 a.m. that said morning he received a phone call that led him to return to the ‘Villa’. Upon arrival he saw Con. Carty, Deon Walters and Corporal Hodge. The officer said, Carty pointed out something to him that was on the ground next to a net by the goal poll. Upon closer examination he observed that it was a firearm. He immediately cautioned the defendant and asked him who own is that, to which he said “Yes Browne, yes Browne you all get me, it is my gun”.
At this time Walters shuck his head in box as if he was suggesting that the officer was lying.
The prosecution also called Constable Carty who told the court a similar account of the incident to that of Officer Browne.
Sergeant James Stephens, a member of the Task Force Unit and also the custodian of the Police Armor in Nevis testified on behalf of the prosecution. His duty entails to ensure that all records are kept up-to-date. The Sergeant said he made check of the firearm users register based on a conversation he had with Constable Browne. His findings revealed that neither Walters nor Herbert was a holder of a firearms users’ license or certificate or permit in the Federation.
Sergeant Cornell Daniel, armory and firearms examiner also took the stand and gave evidence of the details of the guns and ammunition.
Social Services worker, Ms. Anesta Maynard was the last witness to give evidence for the Prosecution. She told the court that she was present when Herbert gave his statement to the officers which she signed.
Deon Walters gave evidence. Cato asked his client why he ran from the officers and if he had a gun. To this, Walters said he ran up the school road because he had a marijuana ‘spliff’ in his hands and he denied having any gun. He said while running he fell and the officer caught him. Walters went on further to say that the officers beat and shock him in the interrogating room. He told the court that he overheard someone telling Officer Browne that they found a gun in the street. Walters denied telling the officer that the finding was his gun. He also denied having a weed-eater. Walters accused the officers of finding the weed-eater and other stolen items in the ‘Villa’ and they tried to pin them oh him and Herbert.
Gavin Herbert too gave evidence. Herbert said Browne ordered him on the ground which he did. He said Browne then handcuffed him and searched him. He was then transported to the station. The officers left the station and returned with a firearm. He said they questioned him then two days after he was charged.
In summation, Cato said that the evidence the officers obtained was from oppression. He said his client was ill-treated and his client denied having a gun. He further stated that there is no evidence to link Walters to the gun and if there is any doubt the benefit of the doubt should be given to his client. As a result he asked for all charges to be dismissed.
Inspector Hector said the case hinged on the confession by both individuals. The officers were clear when giving evidence. The first gun that was found Herbert took ownership while Walters remained silent. The second gun Walters was cautioned and admitted that it was his gun.
Magistrate Clarke in her conclusion believed that Gavin Herbert gave the officers the statement and that he took ownership of the findings and that the statement witness in the presence of Ms. Maynard was true. As a result she found both defendants guilty of both charges.
Her Honor then went on to read the antecedence of Herbert who had a long list of crimes ranging from escaping unlawful custody, to house breaking and larceny, to wounding, assault and resisting arrest. Herbert who was born in 1982 and he went on the wrong path in 1998 and continued until 2006 where he received 8 years for robbery. Herbert was released from prison in February of last year 2013 and by December 2013 he was found with a pistol.
It was the opinion of Ms. Clarke that Herbert was bad influence on Walters who had only disturbed the court once for possession of cannabis.
She told Walters that she would take into consideration that he is a young man and that he has only troubled the court once.
He was sentenced to 6 years for firearm possession and 3 years for possession of ammunition. These sentenced are to run concurrently.
Herbert on the other hand was sentenced to 8 years for gun possession with hard labour and 3 years for possession of ammunition. His sentencing will also run concurrently.