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Stiffer penalties, mandatory sentences for gun crimes – Premier

Govt concerned about amount of illegal weapons in country
Govt is concerned with the amount of illegal weapons in the Territory. Photo: Prague Post
Premier Smith says mandatory sentencing and higher sentencing must be seriously considered in the face of rising gun crimes.
Premier Smith says mandatory sentencing and higher sentencing must be seriously considered in the face of rising gun crimes.
The covered body of Todd-Rhymer who was shot and killed, in the parking lot in the vicinity of Deuces Night Club. Photo: VINO
The covered body of Todd-Rhymer who was shot and killed, in the parking lot in the vicinity of Deuces Night Club. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith says Government is extremely concerned about the amount of illegal weapons in the Territory and noted that while there seems to be a difficulty in stemming the flow, systems must be put in place to address the problem.

The Premier was responding to a caller on NDP Radio on March 19, 2012, who said he would like to know when Government would put serious gun law into place “because we seeing too much crime with guns and things like that. When the time you are going to sit down seriously and try to do something with these guns?” the caller asked.

“I recall during the last administration we recommended increase in penalties, quite severe increase in penalties but before we increased those penalties we had an amnesty period where we asked people to bring in their weapons so that they wouldn’t get these severe fines but despite that there seems to be a number of illegal weapons out there. It is a great concern for us because it is doing more harm to us as a people and as a country and therefore we have to look at other ways of preventing the use of illegal guns and the use of it in criminal conduct,” Premier Smith responded.

He further said the idea of mandatory sentences and stiffer penalties must be seriously considered since the current trend poses a danger to the people and the Territory as a whole since it would have a negative effect, particularly on the tourism industry.

Moderator of the programme Eileene L. Parsons then asked if the increase in illegal guns and drugs in the Territory had anything to do with the fact that its borders are very “porous”.

The Premier said he was sure that issue was a contributory factor.

“Because we have so many islands, so many coasts and inlets, even if we were to get one vessel as a coast guard it would be virtually impossible to cover all the areas and so we just have to be as vigilant as we can be. I know that the customs and immigration are out there policing the waters on a regular basis and they have to continue with that effort. That is basically as opposed to the makings of a coast guard or a homeland security,” the Premier said.

Another caller then suggested that police have random stop and search activities on the roadways and that mandatory jail sentence be put in place as a deterrent to gun possession and gun crime. “I believe that the persons that the police hold with the guns would have several guns not just one or two so when you take one or two guns from a person they have more and so I believe that the police should have more stop and search, random stop and search so that they can get more people off the streets and when they take the guns from them it shouldn’t be just a fine. I believe there should be a jail sentence. So we have to pass some legislation to get rid of those kinds of people having those guns in the first place, knowing that once they are found with a gun they are going to serve some time, I believe that would deter them from having the guns in the first place,” the caller opined.

On that note, 5th District Representatives Hon. Delores Christopher , who was also a guest on the programme, said “but caller the jail is full”. However, the programme had fallen under the tyranny of the clock and the discussion came to an abrupt end.

The issue of illegal weapons has always been a concern but recently the debate resurfaced following the shooting to death of 20-year-old Kwanna Todd-Rhymer on March 16, 2012 at the CSY parking lot in Baugher’s Bay. Rhymer was reportedly shot once in the neck and abdomen. Her ex-lover Alcedo Tyson, 23, has since been charged for the alleged murder and was sent to jail on remand when he made his first court appearance for that offence on March 19, 2012.

Other fatal shootings occurred on January 18, 2012 when 19 year-old Javeron Heskey was killed outside Crystal Night Club in Free Bottom. The Johnson’s Ghut resident died following an apparent robbery outside of the nightclub, which took place sometime after 1 a.m. on January 18. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and was reportedly found masked. A gun was also found at the scene.

And on August 26, 2012, Felix Ramon Colon Beltre aka Freddy, 34, of the Dominican Republic (DR) died from his injuries at Peebles Hospital after being shot several times in the vicinity of his workplace- D’Bella Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, Upper Main Street.

Currently, when tried in the Magistrate’s court, a person in possession of a firearm will face a fine not exceeding $5,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years. If the matter is indictable, a person in possession will face a fine not exceeding $10,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.

23 Responses to “Stiffer penalties, mandatory sentences for gun crimes – Premier”

  • Brap (20/03/2012, 09:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    You guys need to investigate how these weapons are being imported and nip it in the bud. It's a real embarrassment in itself to see that our officers are unarmed but the criminals are heavily equipped. How are we going to fight crimes efficiently if we lack the adequate tools?
  • more talk (20/03/2012, 09:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    More talk about crime where are the uk police officers?
    • black boy (20/03/2012, 09:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I agree with "more talk" Dr. Smith needs to either do it or not do it!!!! Stop the spin and the long talk and get this thing rolling by amending the laws to institute mandatory sentences for guns and gun crimes. Put the high paid Attorney General to work!
    • life music (20/03/2012, 09:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      • Watch Dog (20/03/2012, 10:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        It doesn't matter which government is in power, if you look at the amount of gun crimes that have happened over the years, you would think that this would of already been done, I mean come on man, how many more lives have to be taken senselessly for them to act and put these laws in place. This is ludicrous if you ask me. The community is crying out but yet it feels like the officials are sitting on their hands.
      • village ram (20/03/2012, 12:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        so would we go through four years with that spin.."give them a break they just got there"...I hope not!!!! as that will not work!
      • joblo wants to know (20/03/2012, 16:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        GIGE THEM A BREAK? Where were you during they promised to fix the Economy, stop crime and find jobs for the people of this country, isn't Gun and Gun violence a crime? Yes it is! so they could of been there for just five days they have a right to fix it or even try. Another thing they shouls do is to send that hateful Manager at CITCO out of the Countr for putting our people out of a job for no reason atall.
  • Confucius (20/03/2012, 09:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The jails are full? That is the reason given for not having a mandatory jail sentence for gun possession? Is that also the reason for the pathetically light sentences these gun toting thugs are given by our judicial system? Puhleeeease! Ms. Christopher, are you willing to say "but the jails are full" to the parents, family and friends of Kwanna Todd-Rhymer, Freddy Colon, Kendoy Penn, Jason Bally, Donna Baronville and the family and friends of the far too many unsolved murder victims in the territory? Would that honestly be your answer if it were a member of your own family who had just been gunned down like a dog in the street? BUILD A BIGGER PRISON! This government MUST get control of this situation and you must do it right NOW! We have been crying out for several years and all we are hearing is lip service from our elected officials! We are demanding that you do something and do it right NOW! Enough is enough!
    • Carter (20/03/2012, 10:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I had to really rub my eyes when I read that statement about the prison being full, that shouldn't of even came out of her mouth...
      • wings (20/03/2012, 15:25) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        with no work going on and some saying government broke the jail will be busting at the i deman
    • say again (20/03/2012, 12:24) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I am somewhat confused by your point confusions!
  • ooooo (20/03/2012, 10:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    i wonder whats ronnie's take on this?
    • Well well!! (20/03/2012, 17:30) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      He will say to shut your clapper and go check his record, you dummy. Then again, I doubt that he will waste time to respond to you. He uses his time wisely as you can see.
  • Ricardo (20/03/2012, 10:43) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Premier should either s**t or get off the pot. Hedging or indecisivness does no good. He nees to show he is serious about this and act.
  • tell the truth (20/03/2012, 12:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Did you all hear the toy gun sale argument last night…these people are so empty!
  • ReX FeRal (20/03/2012, 16:33) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Confucius- Ms. Delores doesnt have the slightest clue about Crime & Punishment. Some of the inmates in the system (doing time for small quantities of mariguana) can be parolled, but who is listening to whom in this G-darn society we live in?
  • no more consideration (20/03/2012, 21:33) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Confucius and Ricardo – I agree with you both! ENOUGH lip service already! We don’t want to hear about giving the gun laws “more consideration” when everyday someone is being brutally killed. Man this last one so bold he ain’t bother to put on a mask or hide in the shadows. We NEED action NOW! Enact legislation IMMEDIATELY so that EVERYONE who comes up in court TOMORROW with a gun and gun related charge gets an automatic mandatory sentence of 10 years! This 10yr sentence will help deter these gun-toting, trigger-happy punks. You see them all coming to court all dressed up and some of them smiling like nothing. Send a damn message! Give them automatic 10 years and hard time labor. Ms Legislator, here are a few suggestions if the jail full. For less hostile/dangerous inmates with long sentences, free up the jail space and save us taxpayers some money; 1. the man who in for a little weed, send him to counseling and put him on house arrest 2. the man and woman who in for stealing, give them a couple years of planned community service and put them on house arrest 3. double-up on the number of inmates in a cell 4. make the stay a real lockup experience, clean the streets and cut the grass instead of the Hotel Balsam they got now We NEED action NOW! No damn “more consideration”
  • time for action (20/03/2012, 21:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Too much month running on crime we need real solutions not political sound bites!
  • ausar (20/03/2012, 23:26) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Could their reluctance to implement this legislation relate in part that they have knowlege of those persons-family, colleagues and friends (local and foreign) who are involved in the importation, usage and distribution of these weapons? ..hmm..
  • fat man (21/03/2012, 23:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    a good start in reducing crime is to put those UK officers to do some real work
  • Opsec (26/03/2012, 23:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I live in the state and always talk about coming home because of how peaceful it is but over the last few year I have seen Tortola following and doing the same Bull crap like STTHomas ans STCroix. I listen to all the rap group from the island talking about all the guns they got and what they going to do, they talk about drive by etc... When it come to gun laws in our small home the punishment has to be swift and firm, we do not have time to be playing with this issues, because as we can see it is already getting out of control. The public need to do their part by giving police officers anonymous tips. We have to do our part. The islands are to small for people not seeing any thing, and reporting. Another issue I have is the islands make alot of their money from tourist, and we need to start treating our tourist with respect, Don't get me wrong I know there are some rude tourist and we just have to remember that this is how our island thrive.Thefts and armed robberies do occur in the BVI. Law enforcement authorities in the BVI have informed the Embassy that the number of armed robberies increased in the first half of 2007. Visitors should take common-sense precautions against petty crime. Travelers should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or in cars. Always lock up boats when going ashore. I think any crime against tourist should also be harsh. I love these Island and hoping one day to come home and retire there. One Love.

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