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Man spared jail on gun charge
A father of three who is considered to be an outstanding person in his community has been fined $20,000 for being in possession of a loaded gun some 17 years ago.
Sankar Dwarpaul, 51, a driver and chiropractor, was remanded into custody on June 12 after a jury found him guilty on two charges — possession of firearm and possession of six rounds of ammunition.
In passing sentence yesterday, Justice Maria Wilson, presiding in the San Fernando Third Assizes, found that an appropriate sentence for the offence was six years, but after considering all the mitigating and aggravating factors she decided against a custodial sentence.
Dwarpaul, a driver, was arrested and charged on June 30, 2001. The State’s case led by prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal was around 2 am Insps Harrysingh, Pierre and Smith observed a green Nissan Cefiro for which they had been on the lookout, at SS Erin Road, Duncan
Village, San Fernando. The car turned into the carpark of South Sea Restaurant and stopped.
The officers told Dwarpaul and another occupant of the car they had information that they were in possession of a firearm. When the officers searched the car they found a Beretta pistol with a magazine containing six rounds of ammunition in the console area between the two front seats.
Officers claimed Dwarpaul said: “I have it to protect myself because it have people want to kill me.”
Dwarpaul, who was represented by attorney Chateram Sinanan, said the loaded gun did not belong to him and he knew nothing about it.
During his mitigation plea, Sinanan presented nine testimonials from various people, including a temple president, retired police officer, councillor, sports group and a retired principal, whom all attested to his good character.
During the floods last year in Woodland and surrounding areas, Sinanan said his client’s home was used as a base to distribute hampers and bring relief to affected residents.
He said Dwarpaul was also involved in community activities in and around his community.
The judge also considered that Dwarpaul was financially responsible for his three children, one of whom attends university abroad, and he assists in caring for his mentally and physically challenged brother.
Dwarpaul was also a first-time offender. Although the offences are serious, the judge found that the brief time Dwarpaul spent in custody awaiting trial was sufficient.
However, the judge said this case was considered on its own peculiar and particular facts and is not to be used to justify a non-custodial sentence for similar offences. Wilson ordered him to pay $15,000 fine or in default serve three years in jail on the firearm charge and $5,000 or two years on the ammunition charge.
He has until November 15 to pay the fines.
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