By LR Liburd
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
Vere Merchant, a member of the St. Kitts-Nevis Fire and Rescue Services (SKNFRS), was convicted and sentenced for illegal possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition.
Sometime in May, last, the Fire Officer had pleaded guilty to the charges and sentencing was deferred to a later date.
However, on Monday (Jul. 4), he appeared with his legal counsel Dr. Henry Stugumber Browne, Q.C, in the Basseterre High Court before Justice Marlene Carter who sentenced him to serve two and a half years at Her Majesty’s Prison.
Facts presented in court stated that during a stop and search operation by members of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force on Wednesday, August 21, 2013, Merchant was found with an illegal firearm and a quantity of matching ammunition.
He was subsequently arrested and charged with the offences.
Before passing sentencing, Justice Carter spoke to the high and disturbing level of gun-related crimes being committed in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Speaking with The Observer, Chief Fire Officer Everette O’Garro disclosed his disappointment in Merchant. He noted that the Tabernacle resident has been a member of the SKNFRS for more than a decade and that he had a bright future ahead of him.
The Fire Chief pointed out that since being charged with the offences in 2013, Merchant was suspended and was in receipt of half his salary on a monthly basis.
He however declared that in keeping with the rules and regulations, Merchant would be dismissed from the Fire Service but he would first have to make a formal request through the Ministry of National Security.
This, he added, would be done soonest.