Not right

Pilgrim wants fairer process in gun matters

Due diligence must be adhered to when charging people for offences under the Firearms Act, Queens Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, has said.

The outspoken lawyer’s comment came on the heels of Wednesday’s dismissal of a 2014 firearms charge against father and son Charles Mark Branch and  Dario Jean-luc Holder Branch, both of 1st Avenue Godding Road, Station Hill, St Michael.

“We need to be consistent and scrupulous in how we treat these matters,” Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY, adding, “You can’t have people going to prison because we all know that possession of a firearm is automatic remand and then you have to apply to get bail through the High Court which is a difficult and onerous process.”

Magistrate Douglas Frederick had no choice but to dismiss the matter after the men’s attorney Sian Lange made him aware of a letter from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions which stated that tests conducted on the weapon revealed it was an airsoft pistol which did not have the capacity to “discharge a projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 mps”.

As such the DPP’s office asked that the case against the two be dismissed.

Pilgrim explained that the Act had a strict definition of a firearm and “sometimes when you look at it, it almost seems like anything that has a barrel and can project something out of it would be considered a firearm.

“Due diligence must be done up front, from the time you are examining it [the firearm]. As a firearms examiner you know this is borderline, this is not a Glock Nine, this is something with air propulsion of pellets, therefore we are going to examine this carefully.”

The Queen’s Counsel maintained that “prompt and accurate” examination of the “firearm” must be done to determine whether it qualifies as such.

“How can you let someone slip through that huge crack and [let them] go and sit in prison for nine months . . . or 12 months or more?” Pilgrim asked, adding that it was better to be in police custody for three or four days while test are being conducted than to spend nine months in prison.

“Discharge the person, warn them about carrying it in a public place, do whatever that you have to do but do not let that person slip into a system that is so draconian about firearms. Don’t tell me we go charge you and find out nine months later whether it is a firearm or not,” he said.

Pilgrim also took issue with recent comments made by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite that Government was considering upgrading the Firearms Act.

“It’s impossible for a magistrate to grant you bail for a firearm. You are getting remanded straight to prison. Once you are charged the penalties are high already. What are we upgrading it for?” Pilgrim questioned.

Admitting that the current spate of gun crime was worrying to everyone in society, Pilgrim made it clear the law governing firearms was not the issue.

“Before we talk we have to think. The problem is with our trials and the rate at which people get tried . . . there is nothing wrong with the Act,” he maintained.

With over a dozen gun-related murders recorded for the year, Pilgrim put forward his take on how to address the situation.

“Are we considering giving children classes about anger management every week of their lives to make them understand that you deal with conflicts different from picking up a firearm or chopping somebody with a collins? We need to think about interventions we can do for the people who are vulnerable to committing these types of crimes and their families now,” he said.

12 Responses to Not right

  1. Sherlene Phillips
    Sherlene Phillips September 22, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Can the gun kill people??? If so we need to change the law…

    Reply
  2. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall September 22, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Too many Barbadosess

    Reply
  3. John Everatt September 22, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I agree with Mr. Pilgrim on this. It is not the laws that need to be improved rather it is the DPP and the court system that needs to be fixed. Of course this has been known for many years now yet very little has been done to correct the situation. How can you rationalize throwing someone in prison for 9 months when there should never have been any charges against that person in the first place.

    Reply
  4. hcalndre September 23, 2017 at 2:54 am

    Hi Andrew; Is this a case of wrongful imprisonment, what about a law suit for a few million?

    Reply
  5. Betty charles September 23, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Its more money for him the more people that are charged with gun crimes and murder!! Andrew Pilgrim always have excuses for these criminals

    Reply
  6. Sheldon Cox
    Sheldon Cox September 23, 2017 at 5:27 am

    I agree court system is way to slow. Make no sense charging people to give them bail because them can get a speedy trail

    Reply
  7. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner September 23, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Agree with lawyer on this one another law ain’t gine change squat.Simple justice system in Barbados slow third world and in my opinion useless as hell.Make system faster fairer for everyone not just certain people but everyone regardless of financial status or skin complexion.

    Reply
  8. Sean Chandler
    Sean Chandler September 23, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Anyone with experience can examine an air soft pistol and tell you in 10 seconds that it is not capable of launching bullets. Does the RBPF not have one single qualified firearms examiner?

    Reply
    • Mark My Word September 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

      The RBPF does have one single qualified firearms examiner but he in the News ?

      Reply
  9. Thunder September 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    A lot of people are unfaired because they do not know the law,or because they cannot afford a good lawyer,also their is a law in Barbados called different strokes for different folks,and you choose to protect one set of people and unfair another set of people.
    This country screams of injustice,and we must get it right,this kind of double standards cannot continue,but I agree justice must be fair for all people and not some!

    Reply
  10. Donild Trimp September 23, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    The attorney is 99% correct and 1% incorrect on this issue.

    I agree that no one in Barbados should be imprisoned for any length of time or such serious charges brought against them for having – “an airsoft pistol” in their possession.

    Forget the part about – “which did not have the capacity to “discharge a projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 mps”.

    The RBPF may not be 100% at fault for bringing these charges and here is why?

    “Air Guns, because they use compressed air and not an explosive to expel a projectile, do not constitute firearms under statute laws”
    – here is where it gets fuzzy –
    “unless they are manufactured with the frames or receivers of an actual firearm”.

    All the facts must be known before jumping to conclusions.

    Reply
  11. BOBO THE SAME CLOWN September 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    There is a need as Mr.Pilgrim has stated for a course in conflict management ,as well as anger management at i would suggest as early as Elementary Level. Let’s teach our youngster that there is an alternative to violence. If there can be such a course implemented in the school Curriculum there is no doubt in my mind that there would be less violence by our youth. Sometimes Peer pressure act as a fuel that ignites anger and angry responses. I believe that peer pressure can also be used in a positive form to talk a youngster out of doing harm to another. Some incidents are committed only because an indivisual is egged on by another (in many cases a so called friend)_who when it’s all said and done ,is going to his home to sleep in his comfortable bed ,while you the one that has been urged not not accept being dis goes to prison to sleep on a concrete slab…..Who is the fool here?

    Reply

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