BB guns in general fall within the definition of lethal barrel weapons, but the gun in a case before the court last week was not considered lethal because it was not working.
After hearing that fact, plus mitigation and numerous character references, Magistrate Grace Donalds sentenced Langley Hartman Ebanks to 12 months imprisonment, suspended, and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service.
Ebanks, 28, pleaded guilty in February to possession of a marksman Repeater .177 (4.5 millimetre) BB handgun without a licence.
He had been arrested in September 2005, two months before the Legislative Assembly passed an amendment to the Firearms Law that set a ten-year minimum sentence for possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Defence Attorney Ben Tonner asked for sentencing to be adjourned so that he might further research the matter.
Meanwhile, the police officer who had examined the BB gun was asked for further comment on it being a lethal weapon in light of it not working. He maintained it was capable of discharge, as he was able to manipulate it to work.
Last week, Crown Counsel Gail Johnson submitted a second letter from the officer. She explained that, because of the officer’s knowledge of its workings, he had been able to manipulate it into firing. However, in the condition in which it had been found, it did not discharge.
Ms Johnson explained that a lethal weapon is one capable of serious injury to cause death if discharged point blank into a vulnerable part of the body. Whether it was designed to cause injury or not was irrelevant.
Mr. Tonner said the defendant had told officers the gun did not work. It was found in Ebanks’ luggage at Owen Roberts Airport as he was leaving the island.
The attorney explained that Ebanks had bought the gun from a friend at school when he was 13 and had it ever since.
Last year, when he and his wife were going to Miami on a shopping trip, she had packed various containers inside a larger suitcase for use to bring back items purchased. It turned out that the gun was inside one of those containers, but she had no idea it was there.
Mr. Tonner emphasised that the defendant had no previous convictions and was well thought of in the community.