Imitation firearm draws sentence of three years five months

Justice Marlene Carter explained why she did not give what has become a typical 50 percent credit for bail restrictions when she imposed a sentence of three years five months for an imitation firearm.

Antascio Terrell Rankine, 23, had pleaded guilty to possession of the imitation firearm with intent to resist arrest in George Town in the early hours of June 4, 2016. His sentence came after an adjustment of less than 25 percent credit.

He received the term of imprisonment in Grand Court last Thursday, when Justice Carter noted that Mr. Rankine had been on bail for 436 days with an electronic monitor and a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Sentencing guidelines do allow for a reduction when a defendant has had conditions to bail.

Besides considering the time wearing the monitor, also referred to as a tag, the court had to consider a breach of bail condition.

Mr. Rankine wore the monitor from Aug. 26, 2016 until Nov. 15, 2017. On or about Nov. 5, he removed the monitor and the Crown said he had caused significant damage to it.

Another issue was the daytime/nighttime factor, the judge pointed out. There was no evidence Mr. Rankine had been inconvenienced by the monitor during the day. The nighttime restriction included normal sleeping hours, so it might be less of a curtailment of liberty, she said.

Defense attorney Laura Larner submitted that the tag removal was a one-off violation and disallowing credit would be more appropriate for a defendant who frequently breached his bail conditions. She asked for the full 50 percent, or at least some credit.

“I do not agree that he could remove the tag and expect full credit,” Justice Carter said. She added that she did consider the time he had worn it to be significant.

Other cases had been cited to her of lengthy periods on bail with curfews and wearing an electronic monitor. There was no breach of conditions in those cases, the judge noted.

She determined she would give Mr. Rankine credit for 100 days, which she translated as three months.

With a starting sentence of five and a half years, the judge found that aggravating and mitigating factors canceled each other. She did give a full one-third credit for his guilty plea, resulting in a term of three years eight months. With three months credit, the final sentence was three years five months. Mr. Rankine is to receive credit for time in custody.

Mr. Rankine’s offense received wide publicity because an onlooker circulated a video of him being tased by police officers. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service released a full narrative to explain all that had happened before what was shown in the video.

Justice Carter referred to a summary agreed on by the Crown and defense. Officers had received a report that a man had been seen with a firearm in the vicinity of DHL on Mary Street around 3 a.m. They attended the scene and approached Mr. Rankine, ordering him to stop and put up his hands. He did not comply. When an officer tried to detain him, he resisted. An object resembling a firearm fell from his waist and he ran off. Officers used a Taser gun and Mr. Rankine was caught.

The firearm was found to be an adapted flare gun painted black, with the barrel replaced and containing a spent casing.

Aggravating the offense was that it occurred at night in a public place and was committed against officers who work for the public safety. Further, Mr. Rankine had previous convictions.

The judge accepted in mitigation that the firearm was not produced and there was no evidence of an intent to commit an offense before the arrival of police. She also accepted that Mr. Rankine had been part of a trial which had led to threats being made against his safety.