Zero tolerance

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Lawless behaviour especially involving the use of fireams will not be tolerated in this society, Madam Justice Pamela Beckles has declared.

She made the comment today as she sentenced a 31-year-old man who had previously pleaded guilty to firearm, ammunition and wounding charges to 14 years in prison.

Delivering the sentence in the No. 5 Supreme Court this morning the judge outlined some of the facts previously detailed by Senior Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney in the cases against Armandeo Kephar Henderson Yearwood, of No. 5 St Catherine Close, Haynesville, St James – of using a firearm, possession of a 9mm semi automatic handgun, 17 rounds of ammunition as well as unlawfully and maliciously wounding Damien Reece on May 3, 2014.

Reece was at a shop in Halls Village, St James with a group of people when a motor vehicle suddenly “pulled up” with three men who then got out and opened fire in their direction.

Reece, who recognised Yearwood as one of the shooters as he fled for his life, later also realised that he had been shot in the arm and went to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment. Others who also witnessed the shooting identified Yearwood as well and noted the licence plate of the car.

A search warrant was executed at the accused’s house the following day. The firearm was found in a laundry basket along with a magazine containing 15 rounds of ammunition. Police also requested he hand over the clothes that he was wearing the day before and another two rounds of ammunition were found in his jeans pocket.

Justice Beckles told Yearwood, who was represented by attorney-at-law Kyle Walkes, that his crimes were so serious that only a custodial sentence would suffice.

“[You] discharged a firearm in public at a shop were persons were gathered. This was not spontaneous but premeditated in that you believed that someone had shot at you that morning . . . You went home and armed yourself with a loaded firearm and returned to the area . . . . And you discharged your firearm at the group with no regard for the innocent bystanders,” the judge stated.

She then imposed a starting sentence of 12 years for use of a firearm, ten years for possession of a firearm, six years for possession of ammunition and six for wounding Reece. But after taking into consideration the aggravating factors of the case, the judge adjusted each sentence up by two years leaving Yearwood 14 years for use of firearm, 12 years for possession, eight years for ammunition and eight years for wounding, all to run concurrently.

However, Madam Justice Beckles had to give Yearwood credit for his guilty plea and his 1,789 days already spent on remand, leaving him with four years 329 days left to serve at Dodds.

A presentencing report which was previously read in court revealed the Yearwood began getting into trouble with the law from the age of 15. He also admitted that he became “totally immersed” in the block culture, smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol as well as forming close relations with negative influences. He was also assessed as being at a high risk of re-offending.

Yearwood has six prior convictions among them possession of a flare gun and one round of ammunition, theft, robbery and criminal damage. Since being on remand for the 2014 offences he also became involved in three infractions – fighting, assault and using threatening words – for which he had to be sanctioned.

Taking all of that into consideration Justice Beckles ordered that the convicted man undergo counselling programmes as maybe
recommended by the prison’s psychologist to assist him in anger management and interpersonal relationships as well as any other areas of concern.

Yearwood has also been advised to enrol in educational and vocational training during his incarceration.

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