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Producer gets four years for gun possession

Published:Monday | February 22, 2021 | 12:05 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

A St Thomas producer who was caught riding on a motorcycle with a gun with 14 rounds, which he claimed he found while cleaning a senior citizen’s home, was last Thursday slapped with a four-year prison sentence.

The sentence was handed down by Justice Dale Palmer in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Devonte Cole, 24, of Eight Miles, Bull Bay, St Andrew, was sentenced to four years in prison for illegal possession of firearm and three years for illegal possession of ammunition. However, the sentences are to run concurrently.

According to the facts outlined in court, on August 22, 2020, police were on patrol in the Eight Miles area when they spotted a motorcycle with two men, including Cole who was the pillion rider.

The police signalled the men to stop and they sped off, but eventually stopped after they were pursued by the lawmen.

Both men were held and questioned as to whether or not they had anything unlawful, but said they did not.

However, after searching a bag that Cole was carrying, the police found a chrome pistol with two magazines, one with a single round and the other with 12 rounds. Another single round was also found in the gun chamber.

Cole, when asked if the gun belonged to him, said, “Offisa, a clean mi a clean waa elda yard ‘bout three months ago and find it.”

Both men were taken into custody and charged.

Cole’s attorney, Stephen Jackson, before the sentence was passed, begged the judge to give him a non-custodial sentence and to give him a “second chance”, as he is a “talented” and enterprising young man who would benefit from rehabilitation.

He further told the court that his client is aware of the seriousness of the offence and has demonstrated his remorse by pleading guilty at the earliest possible time.

Jackson told the court that his client is the sole breadwinner for his family and that while he was in custody, he missed the birth of his first child, a son whom he is yet to meet.

“This has caused him sleepless night as he wants to play a significant role in his son’s life, and would love a second chance to play a role in his son’s life,” Jackson submitted.

“He understands that he has made a serious mistake and is sorry for his action,” he added.

Justice Palmer, in reply, said he would take into account the time Cole had already spent in custody, his guilty plea, along with the fact that he is a relatively young man who has had no previous conviction.

The judge also factored in Cole’s regret at missing his first child’s birth, noting that that was a monumental occasion because he now has a child who is dependent on him.

However, the judge said he could not disregard the fact that Cole had tried to mislead the court by telling the probation officer in the social enquiry report that he was going to hand over the gun and that he had it in his possession for one only day when he was arrested.

The judge questioned why he did not tell the police that when he was arrested.

Cole, at that point, interjected and told the court that he had told the police, but received several slaps in the face when he did so.

The judge, in reply, said it was unfortunate that he was caught on the day when he decided to hand in the gun, but mentioned that he could have called the police to come and get the weapon.

Justice Palmer also told Cole that he could not deny the fact he was riding around with a gun that was ready for use.

“It is clear that this was intended for use. Nobody loads a firearm with one round; that makes me wonder,” he said.

The judge, before handing down the sentence, lamented the fact that judges are not empowered to consider intent as one of the aggravating factor during the sentencing.