No exceptional circumstances, Crown and defence agree
Roger Antonio Moore, 28, was sentenced last Friday to seven years imprisonment after pleading guilty last month to possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Moore had admitted the handgun was his after it fell from his pants leg when he got out of a vehicle stopped by police last May.
When he and the driver of the vehicle, Osbourne Douglas, were indicted for the unlicensed .38 semi-automatic, both pleaded not guilty and trial began in Grand Court on 29 January. Moore then pleaded guilty.
Justice Alexander Henderson later directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict for Douglas because the only evidence was DNA.
Justice Henderson sentenced Moore to the mandatory minimum term required by law for a guilty plea when there are no circumstances exceptional to the offence or to the offender.
Defence attorney John Furniss agreed there were none. Moore had said he needed the gun for protection from “the West Bay guys”. He only had it on him when he felt threatened. Otherwise, he hid it “on the street”.
Asked what he would do with the gun, he said he would “squeeze it and ease it off” but he just wanted to scare them. Moore said he had the gun about two months and never test-fired it. He did not know how Douglas’ DNA came to be on it or in it, Mr. Furniss summarised.
He accepted that Moore had 19 previous convictions, but pointed out there were none for firearms.
Justice Henderson asked Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson if he were asking for a higher sentence than the mandatory minimum. Mr. Ferguson said no, because none of the previous offences involved firearms.
The judge wondered if Moore had been following orders from someone else when he pleaded not guilty to the charge so that police could not interview him before the trial.
He also noted that Moore’s record showed offences of assaulting police, resisting arrest and threatening violence in addition to burglary and drug-related matters.
Justice Henderson told Mr. Ferguson that as Crown counsel he represented the state. If Mr. Ferguson’s office was content with a seven-year sentence then that was what he would impose.
The judge noted there were two factors that indicate the sentence could have been higher: First, Moore’s trial had already started and the case against him was strong; second, Moore’s previous record.
“I think the court must be very slow to impose a sentence higher than that suggested by the Crown,” he concluded. In circumstances where the Crown said seven years was appropriate, that was the term he imposed.