Suspended sentence, $1,000 fine
A former chief inspector of police received a suspended two-year prison sentence on Monday and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Lindo Orrett Parsons, 56, admitted having in his home a 12-gauge shotgun, which had not been licensed since 1998, and five rounds of ammunition for it.
Attorney Steve McField spoke in mitigation for Parsons, noting the shotgun had been given to Parsons by his father and had been in the family for over 50 years.
Magistrate Nova Hall handed down sentence on 28 March, forfeiting the firearm and ammunition to the Crown with an order for their destruction.
The items were discovered by police officers in the closet of a bedroom occupied by Parsons and his wife at their residence in East End.
The officers had executed a search warrant on the night of 20 June, 2010.
Mr. McField explained that the search warrant was not in regard to any firearm. He said it had to do with a police search for a man who was at large; a member of Parsons’ family resembled the wanted man and officers had received incorrect information.
The attorney detailed his client’s career, noting Parsons was made a chief inspector within six years of joining the police force. His achievements caused jealousy among his colleagues and, following several unfortunate incidents, he left the force after 17 years.
Parsons subsequently got into a situation in which money was given to him for a business, but he then was accused of taking the money, Mr. McField said.
When Parsons thought he was going to prison, he took the licensed shotgun to the Bodden Town Police Station and asked that it be kept safe. However, he was advised that if police kept it they would have to destroy it.
Parsons then dismantled the gun into three pieces, put it in a pillow case and sealed it with duct tape. He put the bullets in a separate container.
Mr. McField said Parsons spent a year in Northward Prison and when he came out he wanted to forget everything pre-Northward and get his life back together. He did not remember the shotgun until police found it.
The firearm was in poor condition, Mr. McField pointed out; it had to be sent to the US to see if it could still be fired. Ballistics tests showed it had not been used recently.
The attorney handed up a statement from the Firearms Licensing Officer confirming that over the years the department had discontinued sending out licence renewal reminders. Previously it was a duty for the police to remind firearm owners, Mr. McField said.
If that had been done, Parsons would not be in court, he suggested. All the unfortunate circumstances took this offence outside the section of the Firearms Law setting a mandatory prison sentence, he submitted.
In passing sentence the magistrate indicated she found it difficult to accept that a career police officer could forget about a firearm. However, she accepted the Firearm Officer‘s statement as to procedural failure.
She also accepted that Parsons was a low risk for re-offending and that the shotgun had not been kept for any criminal purpose.