Attorney-at-law Valerie Neita-Robertson is claiming that her 18 year-old client, who is a native of Linstead in St. Catherine, was carrying an illegal gun because he had been threatened.
She added that she does not support the view expressed by some people that the sentence handed down to her client is too light.
Her client, Nicholas McNamee, has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison for illegal possession of a firearm.
Justice Andrea Pettigrew-Collins handed down the sentence in the St. Ann Circuit Court on October 22.
The prosecution said police, during an operation in February this year, found McNamee carrying a 9 millimetre pistol in an Axio motorcar on Newlin Street in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
In response to people who consider the sentence to be too light, Neita-Robertson said: “A judge has to look at what is in the best interest of the society regardless of what the public out there is saying because the public out there doesn’t understand.”
She listed different factors that may have resulted in McNamee not being made to serve more time.
“He got a good social inquiry report and he pleaded guilty and so didn’t waste the court’s time… Based on the social inquiry report, he seems to have regretted breaching the law,” Neita-Robertson commented.
She also noted her client’s age, and the fact that he was not caught committing a crime with the illegal gun.
“It is not like he was a prevalent offender, and it is not like he was using it (the firearm) to carry out a criminal activity. So it must be different from a man who has a gun and shoots somebody or assaults somebody or robs somebody,” the lawyer argued.
She added: “He (McNamee) had the gun because he had been threatened. Remember he lost his father at age seven. His father was shot and killed because his father wouldn’t pay extortion money, and there was an incident out of which he (the son) was being threatened.”
Neita-Robertson also stated that sentencing should be aimed at rehabilitation of the offender.
“The public can say what they want to say. The justice system, which has developed over decades, says that the prerogative of sentencing is for the judge, and the judge must be able to balance the thing,” Neita-Robertson further commented. “The aim of sentencing is rehabilitation. If you tek a man who is vulnerable and young and put him in a situation where he is with hardened criminals, are you rehabilitating him? No, you are not.”
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