Four more years

Firearm offender sent back to jail

A High Court judge Tuesday disagreed that a man who confessed to having an unlicensed firearm and ammunition should be set free on the basis of time served on remand.

Instead Madam Justice Michelle Weekes sentenced Ian McDonald Birkett of Wotton, Christ Church to two, four-year prison terms, saying the charges were “so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.

“I do not agree with the prosecution and the defence attorney that the sentence should be time spent, having taken into account all the circumstances of the case, including all the aggravating and mitigating factors,” the judge said while acknowledging that Birkett had cooperated with police, pleaded guilty at the earliest possible time, and expressed remorse for having a loaded firearm in a public place.

“I consider that there should be a starting point [sentence] of seven years and I have given a discount of three years for all the factors mentioned,” Weekes said as she imposed his sentence.

However, having spent 1,076 days on remand –– which amounts to two years and 346 days –– Birkett now has only a year and 19 days left to serve at Dodds prison.

In July last year, Birkett admitted in the No. 2 Supreme Court to having possession of a .45 calibre revolver and six rounds of ammunition without a valid licence.

Police were on duty along Wotton, Christ Church around 10:50 p.m. on July 8, 2014, when they saw him standing near a shed behind the housing units. Birkett reportedly started walking off holding the right side of his waist as the lawmen approached.

Birkett, who was not known to the law courts, allegedly ran off through a track causing lawmen to pursue him.

He was apprehended and a struggle ensued during which he reportedly attempted to throw away the revolver.

The weapon was subsequently retrieved and Birkett, who was asked to account for it, allegedly said: “I don’t know anything about that.”

During investigations the accused man told police that he had gotten the firearm because “people that get shoot up [in his community] were sending out death threats”. He also said that the gun had been sent up for him “to secure [and] protect the back [of the community]”.

When Birkett addressed the judge last year he apologized to the court and Barbadians for his “mistake”.

“I was shortsighted in seeing how this mistake would affect my life till it was too late. I know that society would not let me forget this mistake that I made and I cannot blame them for that. All I ask is for a chance,” he said back then.

Birkett was represented by attorney Rasheed Belgrave while Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas prosecuted the case.

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