Virgin Gorda resident David Straker was handed a split five-year prison sentence for two gun-related convictions — one of which included a prohibited firearm.
Straker appeared before Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo on Monday for sentencing after being found guilty of keeping a firearm without a license and possession of a prohibited weapon.
The offence of keeping a firearm without a license carries a minimum fine of $50,000 or a minimum prison sentence of five years, or both. The possession of a prohibited firearm holds a minimum fine of $80,000 or no less than five years imprisonment.
In an attempt to get his client the least possible sentence, Straker’s attorney Stephen Daniels pointed to his client’s perfect attendance record of all court dates since 2015. He also mentioned the five-year duration of the case, stating that the delay of the court proceedings should be considered since his client was not at fault for the delay.
Daniels said that his client’s father who resides in Barbados is presently ill and under medical care and said Straker has been travelling back and forth between jurisdictions to tend to his dad. He also pointed to Straker’s immediate dependents — nine children who he said would be disadvantaged if their father was to receive prison time.
Daniels further stated that Straker had business-related projects that would directly be affected and result in financial penalties should he fail to complete them.
In sentencing the gun offender, Magistrate Baptiste-DaBreo ruled out the possibility of a fine as she believed the nature of the charges are too serious to consider such a decision.
She stated that she was persuaded to rule in favour of a suspended sentence but was not 100 percent persuaded as she believed a custodial sentence was also warranted.
The magistrate said her decision factors in the five-year length of the case and the condition of the defendant’s ill father. For both convictions, she, therefore, handed Straker the half-a-decade sentence. Two of the five years will be spent in prison and the three years was suspended for a two-year period.
Each sentence will run concurrently, which means Straker will only serve two years in prison. After serving his time at the Balsam Ghut-based prison, Straker will only be required to spend the final three years in prison if he commits another offence in two years.
Appeal to be made
Straker’s attorney Daniels had also made an application to the court for ‘bail pending appeal’.
His argument was that his client had substantiating grounds that would result in a successful appeal and felt that bail should be awarded in light of such possibilities.
Magistrate Dabreo said she was not mindful to grant Straker bail pending appeal, as she was not satisfied that the appeal will likely be successful. Straker will, therefore, remain in prison pending the outcome of an appeal.
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