A 26-year-old George Town man was given a double life sentence for an aggravated burglary during which an elderly couple was tied up and robbed at gunpoint.
Sitting before five prison officers and seven police officers – four of whom were armed police – Elmer Wright listened in silence as Justice Roger Chapple handed down the lengthy prison sentence on Friday.
The judge said he had contemplated long on whether he should impose an indeterminate or a determinate sentence. An indeterminate sentence allows authorities to hold a person behind bars for as long as they deem that person to be a threat to the community.
Ultimately, Chapple stated that his decision was strongly based on the numerous and overwhelming aggravated circumstances, a lack of remorse, and Wright’s “deep-rooted interests in firearms”.
Last month, Wright was convicted of possessing 112 rounds of ammunition of at least three different calibres, and a bulletproof vest. Wright also faced charges for an unrelated matter for which he was convicted of attempted burglary, possession of an imitation firearm, damage to property, aggravated burglary and robbery.
“Each and every one of the crimes you have been convicted of are simply serious,” said Chapple. “You have shown not one jot of remorse for what you have done. I doubt you care about anybody but yourself. You are a ruthless and dangerous man.”
Wright is one of four men who are said to have played varying roles during a spree of criminal offences. Brothers Nikel Thomas, 25, and Cain Thomas, 19, were jointly charged with Wright. The Thomas brothers pleaded guilty to the charges they faced. Cain Thomas eventually went on to become the prosecution’s star witness. A fourth man has since been charged and awaits trial in relation to the various crimes. Despite the other parties involved, Wright was sentenced by himself on Friday due to security concerns that led police to have armed officers at the courthouse.
During the sentencing hearing, Chapple reflected on Wright’s criminal history. His first major conviction came in 2008 at the age of 15. He was given a nine-year sentence for robbing a gas station at gunpoint, during which he beat a customer and shot at police.
“Ten months after you were released, you embarked on a night of criminality,” the judge said.
On that night, Wright and others attempted to break into a West Bay condo but were frightened off by an alarm. They eventually made their way to Prospect, where they broke into the home of a sleeping elderly couple.
The court heard that the home invaders had tied the husband and wife to chairs and threatened to kill them. They were robbed of cash and jewellery. The robbers made degrading sexual comments about the wife, and the husband was hit with a hammer.
Reading from a victim impact report, Chapple outlined the effects on the couple who has since had to move from their home.
“The wife now becomes very anxious whenever she is in a gathering of young men with local accents,” said Chapple. “She has said this was the worst thing that has ever happened to her. She and her family have moved away from their house and have since moved somewhere else.”
For the charge of aggravated burglary and robbery, the judge imposed a double life sentence. For the charge of attempted burglary, Wright was sentenced to five years in prison. He received a further 10-year sentence for the possession of an unlicensed firearm along with two years for the charge of damage to property.
The judge then turned his attention to the 112 rounds of ammunition and bulletproof vest.
“That amount of ammunition are serious indications of being involved in organised crime,” Chapple said. “It signals a deep-rooted interest in firearms and I agree it borders on the line of an obsession.”
Wright was sentenced to eight years for the ammunition and five years for the bulletproof vest.
All the charges were made to run concurrently.
Although the judge imposed two indeterminate life sentences, such sentences are subject to Section 14 of the Conditional Release Law, which makes it mandatory that specific tariffs are imposed on anyone serving life in prison. A tariff is a set term of imprisonment that a prisoner must serve before they are eligible for parole.
In Wright’s case, Chapple imposed a minimum tariff of 18 years. However, there is no guarantee that Wright will be released after he serves that time.
“You will only be released when and if the Conditional Release Board is satisfied that you are no longer a threat to the community,” said Chapple before Wright was taken downstairs to an armed convoy that rushed him off to prison.