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Sick American man found with gun sentenced to three days in jail, COA rules

The Court of Appeal on Monday sentenced an American man with a severe case of Type 1 diabetes to three days’ imprisonment for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition due to his unique medical circumstances.

However, the court’s decision to overturn Ralph Ronald Moorhead’s 12-month sentence and replace it with one of three days in prison does not mean that other gun offenders should expect the same treatment.

Justice of Appeal Jon Isaacs said, “We hasten to indicate that this decision turns on its own peculiar facts, and ought not to become a precedent. As indicated, the conditions of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS) need be remedied, so that this similar situation does not occur in the future.”

Moorhead has already served his three-day prison sentence, since it’s the length of time that he spent in custody before he was released on $10,000 cash bail on June 24, pending an appeal of his sentence.

Police arrested Moorhead, 53, at Leonard Thompson International Airport after a .380 pistol and five rounds of ammunition for the weapon were found in his checked luggage on June 21. Moorhead has a license to carry the weapon in the United States.

Senior Magistrate Ancella Evans sentenced Moorhead to 12 months’ imprisonment, a sentence that the Court of Appeal said she erroneously believed was the minimum penalty she could impose.

Moorhead’s lawyer, Christina Galanos, appealed the sentence on the basis that it was unduly severe. She relied on an affidavit from Acting Corrections Commissioner Doan Cleare that noted that the prison lacked the manpower and resources to manage Moorhead’s condition.

Galanos initially suggested that Moorhead be fined, but she resiled from that position after the court noted that a fine could not be imposed for the offense.

That’s when she suggested a sentence of three days, the time Moorhead had been detained prior to his release.

The prosecutor, Stephanie Pintard, agreed that the sentence was appropriate considering Moorhead’s medical situation and the state of the prison.

The court said, “We are cognizant of the seriousness by which Parliament views firearm offenses. However, this is an unusual case in that BDOCS has informed the court that it does not have the resources or manpower to adequately treat and care for the appellant given his particular requirements to manage his diabetic condition. In this regard, the statement by the acting commissioner in his affidavit is both unqualified and unequivocal and therefore must be taken to state the position notwithstanding the on-site medical facilities at BDOCS.

“We are satisfied that although short and bordering on the realm of unduly lenient, the time suggested is appropriate given the peculiar circumstances of this case.

“Consequently, we allow the appeal and quash the sentences of 12 months imposed by the magistrate on both counts; and we substitute a sentence of three days’ imprisonment on each count. The sentences commence on 21 June, 2022.”

JUMPLINE:

COA says case is not a precedent; urges prison officials to remedy conditions

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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