Seven years for adapted flare gun

Lethal-barrelled weapon can discharge bullet

Rohan Marshall, 30, was sentenced
to seven years imprisonment on Monday after pleading guilty to possession of an
unlicensed firearm.

Crown Counsel Candia James told
Justice Roy Jones that the flare gun had been modified by the insertion of a
.38 calibre plastic barrel.

She explained that the item had
been examined by a firearms expert. “The firearm was found to be operable and
capable of discharging such a cartridge and it was also found to be able to
cause death and/or serious injury to others,” she said.

The Firearms Law includes in its
definition of firearm “any lethal barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet
or other missile can be discharged”.

Marshall was
arrested on 31 March 2009. Ms James said police officers were travelling along West Bay
road around 4.30pm in the vicinity of the public beach when they observed a
Mercedes-Benz travelling at a high speed.

The vehicle was eventually stopped
and officers spoke to the driver, Marshall. He was the only person in the car.

When officers searched the vehicle,
they found a black object resembling a firearm. It was recovered from
underneath the mat near the rear passenger seat. When it was shown to Marshall, he replied,
“Well, I don’t know what to say.”

He was arrested for possession of
an unlicensed firearm. When cautioned, he replied, “There is nothing I can
say.”

He was taken to the West Bay Police
Station and swabbed for gunshot residue. He was then taken to his residence in West Bay,
where a .38 hollow point bullet was found in a dresser drawer where he kept his
undergarments.

In addition to being checked by the
firearms expert, the flare gun was sent for DNA testing. Ms James said it was
found that Marshall
could not be excluded as a contributor to a partial mixed DNA profile located
on then gun butt. Chances of a person chosen at random from the general
population matching that profile would be one in 1,700.

Defence Attorney John Furniss told the
court that Marshall
changed his plea after a second report confirmed that the flare gun would or
could cause injury if fired.

The alteration to the flare gun was
such that, if a cartridge was fired with a full load of gun powder behind it,
the likelihood was that the weapon would explode.

“It might fire or eject the
cartridge, but would probably explode in the hands of the individual who was in
possession or using the weapon, so the thing was probably of more danger to the
holder than to anybody else,” Mr. Furniss said.

“Or to both persons,” Justice Jones
observed.

Mr. Furniss agreed.

He pointed out that a flare gun of
itself is not something that is a firearm within the law. It was the alteration
that made it a lethal-barrelled weapon.

He also noted that a person
convicted of possessing an unlicensed firearm is not eligible for parole (after
serving one-third of his sentence). At best, with good behaviour, Marshall will have to
serve two-thirds of his sentence.

The mandatory sentence for
unlicensed firearms is 10 years, but the court shall impose at least seven
years when a person pleads guilty, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Justice Jones imposed the term
accordingly and allowed the charge for possession of ammunition to be left on
file.

Marshall is a
Jamaican national, married to a Caymanian. He is not to be confused with Mr
Rohan Marshall of the Department of Employment Relations.

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