Twenty-four-year-old Kenaz Hazel of Purcell Estate, Tortola was sentenced to five years at Her Majesty’s Prison after pleading guilty to carrying an unlicensed firearm.
Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin handed down the sentence during Hazel’s first in-person appearance for the matter on Wednesday.
Hazel, who was unrepresented, confessed to having an illegal Glock 40 handgun and told the court he had no intention to harm anyone. The offender also claimed he was in possession of the gun for his own safety.
What the court heard happened
Prosecutors said that around 4:20 on Saturday, October 4, officers of the Royal Virgin Island Police Force were on patrol when they observed Hazel existing a grey tinted rental jeep and headed towards a ferry.
One officer observed Hazel with a large sum of money in his hand so the law enforcer approached him and asked what was in the backpack he was wearing.
Hazel responded that someone had given him the bag to drop to Virgin Gorda. Police then proceeded to conduct a quick search while on the vessel and asked the offender if anything illegal was inside the backpack.
He responded: “I don’t know anything.”
Police then secured the accused via handcuffs, and escorted him off the ferry and conducted a further search of the backpack. A black shirt, a pair of slippers and a long black jeans pant were found — all of which the accused said belonged to him.
Gun found in backpack along with magazine
One black hand pistol wrapped in a sweater was also found in the backpack. The magazine for the weapon was out of the chamber and Hazel was immediately arrested.
Hazel was then taken to the Road Town Police Station where he was cautioned.
A further comprehensive search was conducted at the station and four live rounds of 40-millimetre calibre ammunition were reportedly found in Hazel’s front left pocket.
When the magazine was inspected, thirteen 40-millimetre rounds of live ammunition were reportedly counted from the magazine. No charges were brought before the court in relation to the ammo.
Meanwhile, the money Hazel was carrying was then counted and amounted to $500. It was kept for further financial investigations.
The minimum penalty for gun possession is five years in prison or a minimum fine of $50,000, or both.
The magistrate further noted that the offence was committed while the accused was on bail for another matter, but said she took into consideration that Hazel had no known criminal record before the court and that he pleaded guilty at his first available opportunity.
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