Fabian Oliver Thompson was sentenced on Tuesday to five years and six months’ imprisonment for possession of an imitation firearm with intent to resist arrest.
Thompson, 34, had been on required leave from the Cayman Islands Fire Service since January 2016, when the incident occurred that led to the charge.
He elected trial by judge alone and Justice Malcolm Swift found him guilty on May 7. The judge invited submissions on sentencing from Crown prosecutor Nicole Petit and defense attorney Prathna Bodden, then invited further discussion on Tuesday before passing sentence.
He said he could find no mitigating features, despite Ms. Bodden’s “valiant efforts.” The only good thing he could say is that by not testifying, Thompson did not give false evidence under oath.
The incident leading to the charge occurred on Jan. 20, 2016, when uniformed police officers went to a Bodden Town residence to conduct a search under the Misuse of Drugs Law following the arrest of Thompson’s brother. Thompson himself was not the subject of the search.
Thompson was in the house when officers arrived, but he walked out. When an officer instructed him to stop, Thompson went over a fence. One of the officers said he saw Thompson remove an object from his pants pocket and the officer thought it was a 9 mm pistol.
It was at this point that police used a Taser on Thompson and Justice Swift viewed the film from the device several times. He said he was satisfied that Thompson did take something from his pocket to prevent the officers from following him. The defendant put the officers in fear of being shot, the judge said.
Thompson made his escape, but turned himself in days later. However, he did not turn in the object, so the judge was denied knowing what the object was.
Officers searched the area but did not find anything, so Thompson could not be charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm, only an imitation.
Justice Swift repeated the comments of other judges in previous cases: “Gun crimes have become the scourge of the Caribbean.” He pointed out that imitation guns have the same capacity to frighten and intimidate as the real thing.
Gun crime must be stamped out, the judge continued. Anyone carrying a firearm or imitation firearm must expect to go to prison for a long time, he declared.
Ms. James had expressed concern that the item carried by Thompson had appeared to be very real and it remained in the public domain.
She advised that Thompson had been placed on probation for one year from Jan. 22, 2015, for possession and consumption of ganja. The imitation firearm offense occurred two days before that probation period would have expired.
Justice Swift said he would not impose a separate sentence for the breach of probation.