Imitation firearms offence draws three years

Justin D’Angelo Ramoon was sentenced Friday to three
years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of possessing an imitation firearm
with intent to assault Sven Brett Connor on the night of Sunday, 21 February

At the time of the incident, which occurred in the
Fairbanks area of George Town, Ramoon was 18 and Mr. Connor 29.

Following a preliminary inquiry in April, Ramoon was
committed to Grand Court to stand trial on charges of attempted murder and
possession of an unlicensed firearm. When trial was set to begin on 4 October,
however, Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban advised the court that no firearm had been

With nothing to exhibit, the Crown could not prove that
the object Ramoon was accused of holding was a real firearm — that is, a
lethal barrelled weapon from which a shot, bullet or other missile could be
discharged. Trial then proceeded on a charge of possessing an imitation firearm
with intent to commit an offence.

Ramoon chose to be tried by judge alone, and Chief
Justice Anthony Smellie began hearing evidence on 6 October. He delivered his
judgment last Thursday and sentencing was adjourned so that Ms Lobban and
Defence Attorney Ben Tonner could research precedents.

In his judgment, the chief justice noted that two people
purportedly present when the incident occurred declined to give evidence. Mr.
Connor said he was sharing a meal with friends in a yard when he saw a vehicle
stop. After the car doors opened and closed, he recognised Ramoon as the person
walking toward him. At arm’s length, he said, Ramoon pulled from his waist what
appeared to be a firearm and seemed to be trying to put a shot in the chamber.
Mr. Connor said he grabbed the gun and struggled with Ramoon. He managed to
push Ramoon to the ground and the gun fell. Having seen and handled the gun,
Mr. Connor said it felt real, metal, a silver automatic or semi-automatic
handgun, not a revolver.

Mr. Connor said he ran into the bush because he saw other
guys coming from the vehicle. He called police from his cell hone. His left
shoulder had been dislocated in the struggle and he was taken to hospital. He
told police he thought Ramoon had been sent by a cousin he hung around with.

The entire incident lasted two and a half to three
minutes, Mr. Connor estimated. He said he recognised Ramoon because he had
known him for years, knew his family and watched him grow up. He could see
because there were street lights and lights outside the house.

In his evidence, Ramoon said he was staying with a relative
in West Bay at the time and that Sunday they had a cookout. He ate and drank
and became so inebriated he had to be helped to bed. He never left the yard
that day or night.

His relative also gave evidence about the cookout, but
when questioned by the court admitted that the date of the cookout was
suggested to him by a third party. The chief justice said he regarded this
witness as having no independent recollection of 21 February.

He said he was satisfied Mr. Connor was not mistaken and
not lying.

In passing sentence, the chief justice accepted that
three years as the starting point for possession of an imitation firearm when
there are aggravating features such as robbery or assault. That would be on a
guilty plea. However, Ramoon is a young man, now 19, with no previous
convictions for violence.

The judge said he was concerned that Ramoon may have been
influenced by others; he hoped the sentence would lead Ramoon to reconsider his
life. He said he had to note public concern about the increasing number of
firearm offences.

After Grand Court, Ramoon appeared before Magistrate
Grace Donalds, who had sentenced him to probation on 11 February. This firearm
offence breached his probation, and she sentenced him to six months
imprisonment, running concurrently.