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Convicts using relatives to avoid tough penalties

While lamenting the prevalence of gun-related crimes in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions also decried the number of convicted persons who use their relatives as an excuse to get leniency from judges.

“Too many people like to use family as a deterrent to get [large sentences] when it is obvious that they should have taken that into consideration when they were committing these offences,” said Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit.

She was speaking recently in the High Court during the sentence hearing for US Virgin Islands natives Shamori Richardson and Shaqkil Roberts, who robbed a contractor at gunpoint on Tortola last year.

The prosecutor made the comment in relation Richardson, who had written to the court to say he is the father of a newborn.

Drastic increase

The prosecutor, in the meantime, raised concern about the drastic increase in gun-related crimes in the BVI.

She noted that, in 2014, the BVI recorded 16 robberies in which perpetrators used a firearm.

She said that number fell to seven in 2015, but skyrocketed to 26 last year.

“That shows a prevalence of robberies especially with the use of a firearm,” added Scatliffe-Esprit.
Following the prosecutor’s arguments, Justice Nicola Byer sentenced Richardson to three years at Her Majesty’s Prison. His reported accomplice, Roberts, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

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