Mon | Jun 21, 2021

Fish vendor gets four years for gun theft

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2021 | 12:05 AM

A St Catherine fish vendor who stole a firearm and attempted to sell it, has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Charles Baxter, 35, of Bridgeview in Portmore, St Catherine, was on Friday sentenced to four years in prison for illegal possession of firearm, two years for larceny of a firearm and ammunition, and 12 months for illegal possession of ammunition when he appeared in the Home Circuit Court.

Justice Dale Palmer, in sentencing the married father of four who has been in custody since November 2018, ordered that the sentences are to run concurrently.

Baxter was arrested and subsequently charged after he gave the 9mm Beretta to a relative to sell.

The weapon had been reported missing by a licensed firearm holder in September 2018.

The gun owner told the police that he went to Roselle Falls in St Thomas and left the pistol, along with 19 rounds of ammunition, in the glove compartment of his car, but on his return discovered that they were missing.

Baxter’s’ attorney, Samoi Campbell, who begged for leniency for his client, pleaded with the judge to take into account that he suffers from bipolar disorder and prior to his arrest, was unaware of his condition.

She also asked the judge to consider that he has four dependants and that although he was previously convicted for larceny of cattle, he had not been in trouble with the law for 10 years.

Justice Palmer, before handing down the sentence, said that although he would take Baxter’s condition into account, he was uncertain how it had impacted the case, and he could not ignore the fact that the offender has shown a propensity for larceny.

Further to that, Palmer said Baxter not only stole the gun, but had tried to sell it unlawfully, which, if he had, could have resulted in the loss of innocent lives. However, he said he would bear in mind that Baxter had not wasted the court’s time, had pleaded guilty, and had already spent two years in prison.

Palmer stressed that the issue of illegal possession has become too prevalent in the society and a strong message must be sent.

“Persons are going into church and killing people ... something serious needs to happen!” he said.