Antigua Observer:-A mother and son will be spending New Year’s Day in jail since the police have charged them with unlawful possession of a modified firearm and ammunition.
The woman is 50-year-old Mary Edwards-Otto and her offspring is 21-year-old Mekieva Otto. They were jointly charged early on Friday and would be taken to court next week.
Even if they had gone before a magistrate yesterday, the relatives would have still been in the lockup because the case first has to go before a magistrate who has to set a trial date, but who does not have the power to grant bail for any gun related charges.
The mother and son are accused of unlawfully possessing a modified flare gun and two rounds of 9 mm ammunition with which they were allegedly caught in their Briggins home on Wednesday. The unlicensed items were found in a bedroom during the raid, the police said in a release.
Under the recently amended Firearms Act, the duo can be jailed on summary conviction (before a magistrate) for up to two years or on conviction on indictment (before a High Court), to an increased term of 25 years, which is an increase of 15 additional years for any person who has in his possession or under his control any firearm or ammunition with intent to sell or transfer such firearm to any other person for the purpose of the commission of any crime.
The amendment took effect on November 16. This was done as the authorities battle with increasing gun crime across the island. In defending the decision to increase the penalties, the government said that over the years, the statistics gathered by the law enforcement agencies show that a sentence of a fine does not serve as a deterrent to people with criminal propensities in our society.