Magistrate Hansel Valarie has imposed a $5,000.00 fine and a suspended jail sentence against a 25-year-old of Jimmit, charged in connection to two firearm-related offenses. Kyle Randolph Johnson appeared before the Roseau Magistrate along with Delon Vincent Victorine of Mahaut, Daron Sammy Sabaroche of Toucari, and Kemwa Richards of Canefield on charges of possession of a Glock 43 pistol serial number AGMT344 and six rounds of 9mm ammunition with no valid firearm license.
Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges whilst his co-defendants all pleaded not guilty. The facts of the case are, that on November 4, 2023, Police Constable Laville, accompanied by other members of the Drug Squad, was conducting mobile patrol in the Castle Bruce area. During this patrol, PC Laville received information concerning a Silver Honda CRV registration number PX636.
Around 4:50 a.m. the same morning, while traveling south on the Castle Bruce Main Road, PC Laville observed the mentioned vehicle heading in a northern direction. The CRV was intercepted, during which time PC Laville noticed the front seat passenger discarding an object out of the window.
Promptly, the Officers disembarked, approached the vehicle, identified themselves, and instructed the occupants to exit the vehicle, to which they complied. PC Laville then informed Johnson, the front seat passenger, that he observed him discarding something resembling a firearm to which he replied, “A ball of weed.”
A search of the area commenced, but due to poor lighting, PC Laville informed Johnson that the search would be discontinued and resumed at first light. At 8:00 a.m. that same morning, Johnson was brought back to the area, and PC Laville, in the defendant’s presence, resumed the search and a firearm was discovered in the grass. Upon examination the officer found it loaded with a magazine, and within that said magazine, six rounds of ammunition were collected as evidence in this matter. When questioned on the discovery Johnson under caution stated “is mine,” and further admitted to not being the holder of a firearm license.
The Jimmit man was subsequently arrested and was transported to police headquarters along with the vehicle. At the conclusion of the investigation, charges of possession of firearm and ammunition without a valid firearms license were preferred against Johnson. At the Court hearing, attorney-at-law Wayne Norde during his plea in mitigation pleaded with the Court to temper justice with mercy on the 25-year-old father of two.
Norde highlighted Johnson’s lack of prior criminal convictions, portraying him as a law-abiding citizen who made a regrettable mistake. He pointed out Johnson’s gainful employment as a landscaper and in construction, underlining the potential financial hardships his family especially his children ages one and six years old, would face if he were incarcerated.
The defense lawyer further emphasized Johnson’s remorse for his actions and his cooperation during the investigation. By detailing Johnson’s compliance with law enforcement officers during the vehicle interception and search, as well as his voluntary admission of firearm ownership, the attorney sought to demonstrate his client’s willingness to take responsibility for his actions.
Consequently, he proposed an alternative to a custodial sentence including a suspended sentence and a fine. This recommendation he said aimed to address the gravity of the offense while allowing Johnson to maintain his role as a responsible parent and contribute to his family’s financial stability. On the other hand, presiding Magistrate Valarie took a different stance, arguing that the nature of the offense, involving the possession of a loaded firearm, warranted a custodial sentence to deter others and uphold public safety. The Magistrate acknowledged the timing as being within a gun amnesty program but criticized Johnson for not taking advantage of the opportunity to surrender the illegal firearm.
Despite this, the Court ultimately considered several mitigating factors. The guilty plea, Johnson’s status as a first-time offender, and his family responsibilities weighed in his favor. The Court opted not to impose a custodial sentence but instead imposed a fine of $5,000.00 to be paid by April 2024.
Additionally, a two-year prison sentence was imposed on each charge but they were suspended for two years. Notably, the prosecution offered no evidence against the three other defendants, leading to the dismissal of their cases for want of prosecution.