Suspended sentence for keeping explosives

A man who told police he found explosives and kept them was given a suspended sentence last week after pleading guilty to possessing them without authority.

Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez told Ronaldo Humberto Garcia that having the highly explosive material and detonator caps in close proximity was one of the most foolhardy things she could imagine.

Garcia, 25, admitted having five blasting caps and five sticks of Orica Senatel Magnafrac explosives at his West Bay home on June 11 without being authorized by the managing director of the National Roads Authority.

Crown counsel Marilyn Brandt told the court that police officers had a search warrant and found the explosives in a closet. Two small quantities of ganja were also recovered from the home.

Defense attorney Lloyd Samson pointed out that Garcia had cooperated when the officers presented him with the search warrant. He had forgotten about the explosives because he had had them for four or five years, the court heard. If he had remembered, he would have pointed them out to the officers, Mr. Samson said, adding that Garcia had told officers he had the ganja.

Mr. Samson said Garcia had a number of small business operations and employed about 18 people who otherwise might have difficulty getting work. Some years ago, he had been selling coconuts to tourists from the back of his truck near the cruise ship terminal. A landowner who had an outdoor business gave Garcia permission to take materials from the work site to build a stall for selling the coconuts and souvenirs. Garcia went to the site and found the explosives while looking around, he said.

“He did a silly thing – picked them up and took them home,” Mr. Samson acknowledged.

Ms. Brandt advised that the landowner denied that the explosives would have been taken from his property because he did not have a license. She said officers were unable to determine how long the explosives would have been there.

Mr. Samson urged the court to accept Garcia’s remorse and the fact that he now realized the seriousness of what he had done. He admitted his offending early, and he was a man of previous good character, without even a traffic offense.

The ganja was something Garcia had resolved to quit using, but might well need some assistance along the way, Mr. Samson suggested.

The magistrate referred to a social inquiry report, letters of reference and Mr. Samson’s mitigation and accepted that Garcia was an ambitious and entrepreneurial young man. But his having the explosives was so dangerous that she had to hand down a custodial sentence. She imposed a term of six months, but suspended it for two years.

For the ganja, she placed him on probation for two years. Conditions include random drug testing. The magistrate also ordered that the explosives be destroyed.

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