Gun threat warrants prison term

Offence considered in current social context

Five years ago, Jerru Anderson’s
comments would hardy have caused a ripple, but in today’s social context, they
had to be punished with six months imprisonment as a deterrent.

That view was expressed by Chief
Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale last week after Anderson, 29, pleaded guilty to
charges including threatening violence.

The words of the threat, made to
police officers at the West Bay Police Station on 7 October 2009, were:

“I have a 38 same one that kill
Carlos and you will never find it and you all dead.”  Later on the same date he said, “I have a
AK-47 at my yard and a stub-nose 38 and I going kill these officers and their
family and their mother going to cry for them.”

The magistrate said the threat to
police had to be judged in the context of a young man having been killed with a
.38 and no gun having been recovered. In that context, such words would put
police in fear, she said.

She was referring to the fatal
shooting of Carlo Webster, 35, of West Bay, in the early hours of 10 September
2009, inside the Next Level Night Club. No one has yet been charged in
connection with his death.

Defence Attorney Lloyd Samson urged
the court to suspend any prison sentence imposed. He pointed out that Anderson
did not have a history of violence and the comments were made after Anderson
had been drinking. The defendant now realises he had a problem with alcohol and
is taking steps to deal with it, he said. “He has made every effort to
straighten out,” the attorney summarised. He pointed out that a thorough search
was made at Anderson’s residence but no firearm of any kind was found.

The magistrate said she could not
accept that this was a case appropriate for a suspended sentence. “A deterrent
sentence is not only to deter the offender but also other persons who might
think they can commit the offence and walk. We must deter people from making
these threats to police.”

Recently in Cayman there have been
numerous gun crimes, the magistrate noted. “Any person hearing [Anderson’s]
words would have reasonable apprehension that the speaker could carry out the
threat.”

The appropriate sentence would be
12 months, she said, but she reduced it to six. She imposed a concurrent
sentence of 30 days for assaulting police and fined Anderson $100 for
disorderly conduct at a police station, the conduct being indecent language.

The incidents at the police station
occurred soon after Anderson was stopped for allegedly driving at a speed
dangerous to the public on West Bay Road, driving with an expired driver’s
licence, and using a vehicle with an expired licence and without a certificate
of roadworthiness. He pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving, but accepted
careless driving, and pleaded guilty to the other traffic charges.

He was disqualified from driving
for 12 months and given fines totalling $330. The magistrate said that although
Mr. Samson had spoken of Anderson’s excess drink as the cause of his behaviour,
there had been no charge filed for driving under the influence of alcohol.   

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