Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Nine months for illegal gun, Chief Justice pushes back at critics

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2021 | 2:01 PM

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has pushed back at reports that the nine-month sentence imposed on a St Ann man who pleaded guilty to illegal possession of firearm and ammunition has angered the police.

Jamar Bartley was sentenced in the St Ann Parish Court yesterday. He will be released in a month because he was in custody for eight months awaiting trial.

Bartley, also known as ‘Tatty’, was held with the illegal firearm and ammunition during a joint police-military operation in St Ann last July.

The perceived slap-on-the-wrist sentence evoked sharp criticisms in law enforcement circles amid claims by senior police investigators that Bartley is a member of a feared gang operating in the parish.

However, responding to the criticisms, Sykes challenged the police to provide evidence of Bartley’s involvement in a criminal gang.

“Where is the evidence of this?"he questioned during the signing of a contract for the St Ann Family Court at the Ministry of Justice Thursday.

“There is no offence under Jamaican law known as 'alleged gangster'. There is a statute called the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations),” he said, making reference to the anti-gang law.

The Chief Justice said if the police are convinced that they have sufficient evidence to convince a court to the requisite standard that Bartley is part of a criminal gang, “then that’s the charge that ought to have been laid”.

He said the judge who presided over the case cannot take account of allegations that are unsubstantiated, but has to focus on the offence for which Bartley was convicted.

Sykes noted, too, that there is a limit to the sentence that a parish judge can impose as well as legislation that provide discount for persons who plead guilty.

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