Judge: Firearm offense is ‘depressingly familiar’

Defendant pleads guilty after DNA evidence found

Justice Michael Wood imposed the mandatory sentence of seven years in a case of an unlicensed firearm on Thursday.

“It’s depressingly familiar on the island for young men to have firearms,” he said. He noted a previous occasion on which he had sentenced four men to terms ranging from seven to 13 years for unlicensed firearms, and he had dealt with similar cases since.

In this case, Kenny Ray Sitaram admitted possession of a handgun and a magazine with four live rounds of ammunition.

The judge made it plain there were no exceptional circumstances that could lower the sentence. He did, however, make six-month sentences concurrent for the ammunition and for possession of ganja with intent to supply.

Senior Crown counsel Candia James set out the facts. She said police were called to an altercation at the Esso gas station on Walkers Road in the early hours of Nov. 16, 2017. Their attention was drawn to a male who ran to a white car, which then drove off.

Officers followed the car and stopped it on Smith Road. Mr. Sitaram was the driver.

The officers found a gun magazine in the footwell of the vehicle, on the driver’s side, under the floor mat. Mr. Sitaram ran from the scene and was not immediately apprehended.

Officers continued their search and found a semi-automatic handgun on the passenger’s side, also under a floor mat.

Police then went to Mr. Sitaram’s house, where they discovered 1.2 pounds of ganja and scales with ganja traces.

Mr. Sitaram subsequently surrendered himself to police. He provided a statement in which he said he had run from the scene out of panic and another man had the gun.

Ms. James said that man was spoken with and he denied possession. Tests showed DNA matching Mr. Sitaram’s on the magazine and on the grip of the gun. The other man’s DNA was not found.

Testing later showed that the cartridges in the magazine were viable.

Attorney Crister Brady agreed there was little he could say in mitigation, except that the amount of ganja was not significant in terms of the quantities for supply generally dealt with in the Summary Court. He suggested a concurrent sentence and Justice Wood agreed.

Justice Wood noted that, at 25, Mr. Sitaram was the father of young children and would miss out on a significant part of their growing up.

He ordered that any time in custody should count toward sentence.