(CNS): Kylan Hunter (34) was handed a nine-year jail sentence Tuesday when he appeared in Grand Court for a sentencing hearing, having pled guilty on the morning of his trial last year to having an illegal gun near a beach front bar. This is the second time that Hunter has received a lengthy term of imprisonment for possessing an unlicensed firearm, despite not being charged on either occasion with using the weapon in the course of a crime.
Hunter, who is from West Bay, was arrested in April 2016 in the parking lot close to Calico Jack’s on Seven Mile Beach. Police on patrol in the early hours of the morning were observing a group of people after the bar had closed when they spotted Hunter take a gun from the waistband of his pants and push it into the hands of Juliette Latham (29), who was standing by him.
An officer followed Latham, who had begun walking away, and retrieved what turned out to be a loaded Smith & Wesson pistol from her. She then shouted at Hunter that he needed to take responsibility for the weapon as she was not going to go to jail for him.
Latham admitted having the gun after Hunter had forced her to take it from him and she pleaded guilty to possession and cooperated with police. She was later given a suspended sentence when a judge found exceptional circumstances, allowing him to deviate from the mandatory minimum term for unlawful firearms.
However, Hunter persistently denied knowing anything about the gun, even when his DNA was found on the weapon, until the morning of his trial last year, when he finally admitted the possession.
As he handed down the sentence, Justice Charles Quin said that in Hunter’s case there were no exceptional circumstances and he was not entirely convinced that Hunter had, as his attorney claimed, shown remorse. He raised concerns that Hunter had denied the crime for a considerable time and tried to blame others.
The judge spoke about his previous conviction for the possession of an illegal gun in 2007 and the ten-year term he was given then, as well as a number of other offences, including escaping custody, resisting arrest, assault and other crimes, that Justice Quin said demonstrated a disrespect for authority.
Given all of the circumstances, he said, 12 years was a reasonable starting point, but giving consideration to mitigation and Hunter’s eventual admission, the judge cut the sentence by 25% to nine years.
Hunter served his first jail term over a gun following an incident in West Bay in 2006 when he was just 21 years old. He was convicted the following year after a jury trial in which he denied being in possession of a .38 Taurus handgun. Hunter had handed the gun in to the police, saying he had found it in the bushes while playing football. But the crown’s case was that Hunter was spotted retrieving the gun from a West Bay yard, where it had been thrown from a passing car, and a magazine was found in the yard that matched the gun.
Hunter was handed the mandatory term following the conviction in 2007 but it was not revealed in court exactly when Hunter, who is now 34 years old, was released.