Judge waives minimum gun term in ‘unique’ case

| 19/07/2021 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Following his conviction for the second time for possession of an unlicensed gun after his first was quashed on appeal, Andy Barnes (41) will not serve the minimum sentence of ten years in jail for that offence and can expect to be released in the coming months, having served the best part of a new eight years and three months prison term. The sentencing judge found that Barnes was in a unique position, having to serve his time alongside, and be taunted by, the man widely believed to have shot and killed his four-year-old child, which she said was “a striking mitigating factor”.

Justice Marva McDonald-Bishop delivered her sentencing ruling last Thursday after hearing submissions from the crown and Barnes’ defence attorney earlier this month regarding this case, which has a long and checkered history, including significant delays in assessing Barnes’ mental health, as he is said to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The circumstances of Barnes’ incarceration were presented to the court by his lawyer, who explained that her client was serving alongside Devon Anglin, the man suspected, but never convicted, of killing Barnes’ child, Jeremiah Barnes, in 2010. Not only was he suffering PTSD as a result of the murder of his child, who died in his arms, but he had been taunted by Anglin about his son’s death while in prison, the lawyer said.

Barnes was first convicted in 2017 of having a loaded gun hidden behind a microwave at a George Town apartment he shared with others, which was found during a police search. But following an appeal, the conviction was overturned when the higher court found that the testimony of a co-defendant who had given evidence against Barnes may have been influenced by the police involved in the case.

The conviction was quashed and a retrial was ordered but Barnes was found guilty again after trial in 2019.

Since then Barnes has been awaiting sentencing, which has been delayed many times because of missing psychiatric reports. As a result, a decision was made to go ahead with the sentencing without these reports and the judge gave Barnes the benefit of the doubt due to potential prejudice over how long he was awaiting his sentence.

A conviction for the possession of an unlicensed firearm carries a mandatory minimum of ten years in jail for someone found guilty after trial. It is only in exceptional circumstances that the court is able to deviate from that term, which has been a very rare occurrence. But Justice McDonald-Bishop found that Barnes’ case was exceptional and said it “must be particularly distressing” for him to be in jail alongside the man he believes killed his child and to have been taunted by that individual.

The judge noted that it was a serious crime aggravated by the fact that the gun was loaded, and that Barnes has a long criminal history, with some 40 past offences. But she said she had also considered the mitigating factors in the case that led her to hand down a term of eight years and three months. This, she told Barnes, would see him free shortly, given the time he has already served on remand, on curfew and post conviction.

Speaking directly to Barnes via Zoom from Jamaica, Justice McDonald-Bishop told him that this was one of the most difficult cases she had ever had to sentence as his situation evoked a lot of issues. She said the court cannot be moved by sympathy but she knew that he must be distraught over the loss of his child, and that was compounded by the situation he found himself in with regards to serving time alongside the man he believed murdered his son.

She said she had done the best she could for him but he must now make a change in his life.

“I have given you a sentence that should allow you to be on the road very soon,” she told him but said he must use the short time he has left to serve to reflect on the changes he must make. The judge told Barnes that crime does not pay and he now had the opportunity to leave criminality behind him.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    40+ offences. Tougher sentencing could have reduced that number. So many crimes, so little time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another unserious and unbelievable decision this time from a trial judge who is apparently not even on the island much less living here. You can’t tell from the article but it appears he’s also getting the usual time off for good behavior so he will serve much less than the 8.5 years. Is there any actual evidence of this taunting other than his say-so? This decision needs to be appealed for sure. Get this guy off the streets. It’s terrible to see the public being failed in this way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So ridiculous! 40+ offenses but let’s cut him loose early. Once he’s out and commits his next gun crime, will he get the discounted sentence again?

  4. Anonymous says:

    So, I can use this excuse to get a minimum jail term when caught with an illegal/unlicensed firearm(that I’m sure ballistics weren’t tested probably committed a crime with this).
    I’m sure on that small island everyone must have PTSD after some loved one was killed by a gun/knife/machete/offensive weapon.
    Good luck to law abiding citizens that man have nothing to live for and think 2 mass shootings are a lot wait until He’s out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So the court is protecting him from being ‘taunted’ in jail. Aw, diddums. Does the nasty man say bad things to you?
    Does the court not have the obligation to protect the rest of us law abiding citizens from violent career criminals with loaded guns at home?
    How many second chances does this guy need exactly?

  6. Anonymous says:

    The men involved in this are all a waste of life.

    Parasites on society.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Send either Barnes or Anglin (or both) to a UK Prison!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why should the Britush taxpayers pay for them, they have enough on their plates! Cayman’s responsibility.

      • Anonymous says:

        No such thing as a free lunch with the English. I’m sure Cayman would have to foot the bill.

  8. Soft on crime says:

    WTF – Barnes kid is killed by a bullet meant for him and he still can’t turn away from a life of crime. He gets convicted for possession of a firearm and has 40 other offences.

    How does this make sense, he should serve at least the minimum. The judge is letting him out as he is being taunted in prison… He had 7 years to clean his life up and not be in possession of a firearm, but he didn’t. How many other friends and family members has he put in danger since his child was killed?

    The judge says the Court can’t be moved by sympathy, but then the Court ism oved by sympathy.

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