By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN previously on bail for murder was sentenced to over two years in prison yesterday after being caught with a loaded gun in his home two days ago.
Magistrate Samuel McKinney sentenced Andre Thompson to two-and-a-half years in prison for being caught with a loaded 9mm pistol at his Winton Meadows home on Tuesday.
Prior to being sentenced yesterday, the 26-year-old was on $20,000 bail ahead of his 2021 trial over allegations he murdered Joel Russell on January 10 last year.
Russell’s body was discovered with injuries by police shortly after 11pm on Majority Rule Day at Willow Tree Avenue after they received reports that a man had been shot.
Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson had just granted Thompson bail in December, mandating that he be outfitted with an electronic monitoring device and abide by an 8pm to 6am curfew.
This came almost a full year after he was first charged with Russell’s murder in January 2019, meaning he spent an entire year on remand before being successful in his bail application.
Yesterday, Thompson was one of three people, inclusive of his father and girlfriend, who were charged in connection with a gun and ammunition seizure on Tuesday.
However, the police prosecutor, Corporal Samantha Miah, withdrew the charges against the pair after Thompson admitted the offences.
According to reports, sometime around 3.30am that day, a team of officers armed with a search warrant went to a home on Holly Road in the Winton Meadows area. Upon their arrival, they knocked on the front door. Thompson, his father, and girlfriend answered the door.
The officers presented to search warrant to the trio, which they appeared to have read. Afterwards, the officers conducted a search of the residence in Thompson’s presence.
While searching a western bedroom, which was occupied by Thompson, one of the officers discovered a silver and brown 9mm pistol, the serial number erased, that contained a black magazine with 10 live rounds of 9mm ammunition inside. The weapon was lying on a shoebox in the closet, the prosecutor said.
Thompson was consequently arrested in reference to possession of a firearm and ammunition. While being arrested, he told the officers: “I ain’t gone lie officer. That’s mine. I feel like I cursed. I had it for my protection.”
Thompson was subsequently transported to the police station for safe keeping and further investigations. Later that day, police interviewed him under caution at the Central Detective Unit (CDU). However, Thompson answered “no comment” to every question that was asked by the investigator.
Yesterday, Thompson’s attorney Devard Francis pleaded with the magistrate to be as lenient as possible in sentencing his client. Thompson, meanwhile, apologised for his actions in court, particularly to his girlfriend’s parents who were present.
However, magistrate McKinney noted illegal firearms are a problem in this country, adding that in a majority of the serious crimes in the country, a firearm is the weapon of choice.
The magistrate said that notwithstanding his apology and Mr Francis’ plea in mitigation, it would have been “very likely” that he would have received a custodial sentence in any event.
Magistrate McKinney subsequently sentenced Thompson to two-and-a-half years on the gun charge, and one year on the ammunition charge, to run concurrently.
Attorney Christina Galanos represented the elder Thompson.