Chief Magistrate defends decision to impose fine for gun crime



In reference to the article in The Daily Observer, page 3, Re: ‘Chief Magistrate’s sentence raises more questions’, published on Monday, January 08, 2018, the Chief Magistrate wishes to state categorically, the inaccuracies stated by the author of the said article.

The Firearms (Amendment) Act 2017 No. 27 of 2017 was only printed and published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, 9thJanuary, 2018.  Let it be known that until that time, the Act was not formally law.  The Court can only make reference to that which is currently on the law books.  Further, it is left to the discretion of the Magistrate as to the Sentence to be passed down to a convicted person based on, among other things, the Probation of Offenders Act.

Therefore, please be hereby informed and further advised that a Magistrate is not ‘Deemed to Know’, that which is Law, until it has been printed and published in the Official Gazette.Kindly be guided accordingly.

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  1. (From Observer, Jan. 05, 2018) “However, it immediately appeared to conflict with the recent amendment to the Firearms Act, which saw the removal of fines as an option for sentencing in both the high and lower courts. The reporter researched the matter and found that the new law was passed and gazetted. When asked about the sentence and whether it conforms with the new law or any other sentencing provisions, Benjamin said, “As far as I am aware, in the Antigua and Barbuda official gazette, volume 37 No.85 published on Thursday 6th of November 2017, the Firearms (Amendment) Act No 27 of 2017 was published and upon publication all persons concerned with the applications of the provisions of the Act are deemed to know the contents of the Act.”

    While he could not state how this situation would be remedied, he added, “I am aware also that another magistrate in another district has already applied the provisions of that Act.”

  2. Great question Tony. It seems like the magistrate is saying in addition she is guided by the probation act thereby whatever decision is still correct. Btw is the Antigua gazette online?

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