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‘They wanted to set me on fire’ – Jail for gunman

Trinidad Express / A MASON who told the court he had an illegal loaded gun for protection against men he believed wanted to set him afire a second time, was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison.

In passing sentence on Aaron Mohammed, San Fernando Senior magistrate Cherril-Anne Antoine said guns were too prevalent in this society. “Every Monday morning the court has so many firearm matters … People seem to think that because of the bad crime situation they should arm themselves. I am of the view that that would only make things worse.”

Police prosecutor Cleyon Seedan told the court on November 4, officers in police uniform went to a bar at La Plaisance Road, La Romaine. Constable Snaggs saw Mohammed standing near a black gate on which there was a metal box. The officer saw him frequently glancing at the box. It was searched and the loaded gun was found.

Mohammed admitted it was his. “I know allyuh come to search the place and when I see allyuh I hide the gun in the black box in the door. That gun is mine, I don’t want to waste no time and let nobody get tie up for my stupidity,” he told the officer. Snaggs charged him.

Defence attorney Shaun Teekasingh told the court his client, 33, was a mason and the father of a ten-month-old child. He said Mohammed had the gun for his protection. “He has been receiving threats to his life … Threats that they will kill him and set him afire. Two years ago he received similar threats and a number of assailants threw a liquid on him and set him ablaze.” Teekasingh said Mohammed still had scars on his neck and chest from that attack. He said a report was made to the police and Mohammed also provided them with pictures but there were no arrest. “He believed they were after him again …. He was fearful there will be a re-occurrence and took the unfortunate decision to find an illegal firearm to protect himself,” Teekasingh said.

Antoine went through Mohammed’s criminal record which stated he had seven matters over the past ten years with him paying fines for assaulting police officers, resisting arrest and three times for possession of marijuana.

Police prosecutor Cleyon Seedan said Mohammed’s criminal record showed he had a “colourful past” and he also asked the court to consider, in passing sentence, the prevalence of guns in society and its purpose. He said while Mohammed said he was a victim of crime, he should not have taken the law into his own hands by arming himself. He advised that he could have gotten redress from one body or another within the police service.

Antoine said she considered Mohammed’s previous convictions and the prevalence of firearms in society. She sentenced him to four years in prison for possession of the gun and nine months for possession of the ammunition. The sentences are to run concurrently. Mohammed will serve four years behind bars.

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