A fine was yesterday imposed on Makieva Otto for gun and ammunition possession, but, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, attorney general, has confirmed that it is not in keeping with the law. The information of the fine of $5,500 which was ordered payable forthwith, was divulged to the media by the Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) department of the police.
However, it immediately appeared to conflict with the recent amendment to the Firearms Act, which saw the removal of fines as an option for sentencing in both the high and lower courts. The reporter researched the matter and found that the new law was passed and gazetted. When asked about the sentence and whether it conforms with the new law or any other sentencing provisions, Benjamin said, “As far as I am aware, in the Antigua and Barbuda official gazette, volume 37 No.85 published on Thursday 6th of November 2017, the Firearms (Amendment) Act No 27 of 2017 was published and upon publication all persons concerned with the applications of the provisions of the Act are deemed to know the contents of the Act.”
While he could not state how this situation would be remedied, he added, “I am aware also that another magistrate in another district has already applied the provisions of that Act.” Otto, a 21-year-old resident of Briggins, would serve one year in jail if he did not pay the fine by the end of yesterday. The sentence was handed down by Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh in the St. John’s Magistrate’s Court, after Otto pleaded guilty to possession of a modified flare gun and possession of two 9mm rounds of ammunition.
He was fined $3,000 for possession of the firearm and $2,500 for possession of ammunition. The Briggins resident was taken into custody and jointly charged with his mother, after police found the illegal items inside their home during a search on Wednesday December 27, 2017. The charges against the mother were subsequently withdrawn, the police said.