A senior citizen will have to spend time in prison on firearms, ammunition and drugs charges after the Court of Appeal on Wednesday deemed his $15,500 in fines unduly lenient.
In September 2020, Pericles Maillis — a cousin of the lawyer and conservationist with the same name — was ordered to pay the fines by December in order to avoid spending 12 months in prison.
The director of public prosecutions (DPP) challenged the fine on the grounds that it was too lenient and that Maillis’ crimes deserved a prison sentence.
Yesterday, the tribunal of Justices of Appeal Sir Michael Barnett, Stella Crane Scott and Roy Jones agreed and directed Magistrate Ancella Evans to sentence the 68-year-old “according to law”.
Although it was open for the court to impose a new sentence on Maillis, Sir Michael said, “I consider that the interest of justice is better served by referring the matter back to the magistrate for sentencing according to law.
“The magistrate no doubt will receive the necessary reports concerning the respondent in order to determine the appropriate punishment suitable to this particular offender. The fines that were imposed are quashed and all the sums paid by the respondent are to be returned.”
The court said that Evans “had no discretion to impose a non-custodial sentence” and that “any leniency showed must be reflected in the length of incarceration not by the imposition of a fine instead of incarceration”.
However, it’s unclear when the re-sentencing will occur. The court rejected an application from Maillis’ lawyer David Cash that his client be admitted to bail “as a formality” until sentencing.
The court made no further order regarding Maillis, who will remain free until the magistrate calls up the case for sentencing.
Maillis attended the hearing from Abaco via a Zoom call.
Sir Michael, in a written decision, said, “[Maillis] was well aware that possession of firearms and ammunition without a license was against the law. The fact that they were antiques did not excuse his failure to obtain a license for them or allow the license that he had to expire. It is common ground that the magistrate’s use of the word ‘antique’ in describing the firearm was not intended to refer to an ‘antique’ within the meaning of section 2 and 43 of the Firearms Act.”
He added, “The respondent knew that possessing the drugs (even if only for medicinal purposes), was also against the law. The Dangerous Drugs Act does permit the imposition of a fine instead of imprisonment but even those fines do not reflect the gravity of the offense.”
Acting on information on August 29, 2020, police went to bushes in Gilpin Point, Abaco, and found 75 potted plants in bushes near to Maillis’ home.
The officers arrested Maillis after he said the plants were his. They searched his home and found a brown sawed-off shotgun, a brown Arminius revolver, a brown Ruger rifle, and a Bolt Action rifle along with 107 round .38 live rounds of ammunition, 12 shotgun shells and a jar of marijuana.
Save for the shotgun, the other weapons were antiques and secured in a locked box. One of the rifles was a relic from World War II that he received from his father and the other rifle was from the Vietnam War. Maillis said he bought the revolver and the ammunition from an American 40 years ago.
He said that he had the shotgun to protect himself and his family, as his home had previously been broken into.
Maillis said that he grew the marijuana and consumed it as tea to help him cope with depression post-Hurricane Dorian.
Cassie Bethell appeared for the DPP.