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Taxi Driver Spared Jail Over Lapsed Gun Licence

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

A 41-year-old taxi driver was spared a prison sentence yesterday for not licensing his shotgun.

Instead, Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes fined Tomiko Johnson $2,000 for admitting to being in possession of an unlicensed shotgun on Sunday.

According to police, Constable Philippian Brown said that sometime around 1.15pm on Sunday, he was on duty at the Paradise Island Police Station when he received information about Johnson, who was in custody for another matter.

As a result, PC Brown prepared a search warrant and read it off to Johnson. He also handed Johnson the warrant, who, he said, appeared to have read its contents.

Afterwards, PC Brown said he and another officer left the station with Johnson, who directed them to his home in High Vista. Following a search of that residence, the officers discovered a black safe in a northeastern bedroom that contained a 12-gauge, silver and black pistol grip shotgun with 12 rounds of unfired red and gold shells.

The items were shown to Johnson, who was subsequently asked if he had a firearm licence. Johnson’s replied in the affirmative, but was uncertain about where it was.

As a result, the officers took Johnson, the shotgun and the ammunition back to the station.

While there, PC Brown searched Johnson’s black, 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, where he found in the glove compartment a shotgun licence book in Johnson’s name. That licence indicated that the gun hadn’t been licenced since 2015.

PC Brown subsequently cautioned and warned Johnson of prosecution, to which Johnson replied: “Officer, I forgot to licence it.”

The following day, Detective Constable Makel Bowe, of the Firearms Investigation Unit, interviewed Johnson in the presence of another officer. Johnson waived his right to an attorney, according to the officer.

During the interview, Johnson admitted to being the owner of the shotgun and ammunition. He said when he first purchased the items, he kept them in his taxi. But after learning that doing so was illegal, he secured them under his bed in a safe and “just forgot” about them.

Johnson further stated that the last time he paid for a shotgun licence was in 2012 because he forgot he had the shotgun.

Magistrate Forbes consequently fined Johnson $1,000 for possession of an unlicensed firearm and $1,000 for possession of ammunition. He faces six months in prison if he defaults. Bjorn Ferguson represented Johnson.

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