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Man sentenced to four years under new gun law

A man who pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun and ammunition will spend the next four years behind bars.

Jameko Ash, of First Street, The Grove, is the first person to be sentenced to prison since Parliament reintroduced statutory minimums for firearm offenses.

In 2001, the FNM government abolished minimum sentences with Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham saying they had made a mistake by removing the court’s discretion.

Ingraham said in Parliament recently that the government decided to reintroduce mandatory minimum sentences because unusual times call for unusual measures.

Before passing sentence, Gun Court Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt told Ash that it was the wrong time to be found with a firearm or ammunition as Parliament had intervened because of an increase of violent crimes using firearms.

She said, “I am a creature of instructions and my hands are tied.  It is therefore my duty to sentence you to a custodial sentence of four years.”

At his arrest, Ash told police that he had found the contraband while urinating in an abandoned building.

His lawyer, Shaka Serville, told the court that Ash was on his way to turn the gun in to police when he was arrested.

Police arrested Ash when they found a .45 pistol as well as 11 bullets on him following a search on November 8.

Officers from the Mobile Division stopped a white Honda Accord in which he was a passenger on Fifth Street and Poinciana Avenue.

The officers ordered the three men out of the vehicle and searched them, the court heard. Initially, the officers did not find anything illegal.

However, they searched Ash a second time when they noticed that his legs were clenched tightly together. The gun and ammunition dropped to the ground, the court heard.

The amended Firearms Act, which came into effect on November 4, provides for mandatory sentencing ranging from four to seven years.  A 30-day firearms amnesty period expired on November 3.

Persons convicted of gun offenses do not receive time off for good behavior.

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