Judge chastises gunman

“Wholly unacceptable.”

That’s how High Court judge Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius Tuesday described the “upsurge of young males . . . attempting to usurp the role of law enforcement officials” in this country.

Justice Cornelius made the comments in her sentencing of Travis Alexander Walrond of Block 9B, Bottom Close, Wildey, St Michael, who pleaded guilty in November 2015 to possession of a .38 semi-automatic handgun and six rounds of ammunition.

Tuesday, he was sentenced to six years behind bars at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds for his crime.

In presenting the facts after the gun accused entered the guilty plea, Senior Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney told the court the illegal gun and ammunition were found by police in the waist of Walrond’s pants on February 23, 2014, when he was at a nightclub in Sugar Hill, St Joseph.

When police who were acting on information approached and informed Walrond of their suspicion that he had a firearm, the 27-year-old tried to escape but was unsuccessful.

The judge made it clear that the court would not take a casual approach to such a situation.

“Your actions exposed innocent persons to the risk of death or serious injury. They are inexcusable and not to be treated lightly,” Justice Cornelius told Walrond.

The report which was read in No. 5 Supreme Court back then, revealed that Walrond had said he had the firearm to protect himself “in the event that he was threatened while at the gathering”.

However, that explanation did not sit well with the judge.

“Your excuse of having the firearm to defend yourself if your safety was threatened is not, in the court’s view, any excuse at all,” the judge maintained, adding that the country would be in a state of chaos if everyone decided to have a firearm “to protect themselves”.

“Society would be in anarchy, with its citizens – both young and old – captivated by anxiety and fear of death or injury . . . . This is a reason why we have police who are supplied with firearms,” she said.

The judge added that Walrond’s actions on the night when he resisted police in the execution of their duties placed him and lawmen at risk of injury.

“While you did not use the firearm, you had every intention of doing so if you were involved in a confrontation,” Justice Cornelius told the young man who has previous convictions for several offences, including theft, assault and possession of cannabis.

She then slapped a six-year sentence on Walrond for the charge of possession of a firearm and four years for ammunition possession, to run concurrently.

However, having spent 945 days on remand, he only has three years and 150 days left in prison for the gun offence and one year and 150 days for the ammunition offence.

Walrond, who was represented by Andrew Pilgrim, QC, was also ordered by the court to enroll in the anger management and drug-counselling programme offered at Dodds.

“[The court] sincerely hopes that you benefit from this further period of incarceration,” Justice Cornelius said to the Walrond who was later taken away by prison officials to serve his time.

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