Man gets 10 years for possession of modified flare gun

| 17/04/2013

(CNS): A judge found no exceptional circumstances in the conviction of Marcus Manderson for possession of an unlicensed firearm, despite the fact that the weapon in question was a modified flare gun. The 25-year-old man from George Town was sentenced Tuesday to ten years in prison following his conviction by a jury in February. Although he had no previous convictions for violence and only two ganja offences on his record, because the jury found that the modified flare gun constituted a firearm the mandatory minimum sentence was imposed by Justice Charles Quin.

Manderson had been arrested in connection with the weapon when it was recovered by officers from the RCIPS in the early hours of 5 February last year in Windsor Park. Manderson was spotted by Uniform Support Group officers on patrol and when they called to him to stop he ran off. The police gave chase and two officers watched him throw a dark object into a yard before they caught up with him. Once cuffed, Manderson was led back to the place where he had thrown what they believed to be a gun and a search of the area recovered the modified flare gun.

Manderson had not only denied the gun was his, he had also argued that it was not a lethal weapon. Although there was no evidence that the gun hadbeen fired or used in any crimes, the jury found that the gun was capable of firing a conventional bullet and seriously wounding or killing someone. During the trial the jurors heard that with certain modifications an officer from the RCIPS Firearms Unit was able to fire a bullet from the gun in a test situation, and although two expert firearms witnesses disagreed with each other over the definition of the flare gun as a lethal weapon, they believed it should be considered a real firearm.

During his sentencing hearing Manderson’s attorney argued that there were exceptional circumstances in the case, not least because a question mark still hung over whether or not the flare gun was able to harm anyone except the person shooting it, but the judge took the position that the jury had found that it was a lethal weapon. Justice Quin was not swayed by submissions that the firearm was a crudely modified flare gun with a copper barrel and rubber tubing that could not fire a conventional bullet without the ammunition also being modified or that it had never been used in the commission of a crime.

The young man’s bad start in life, as a result of his own father’s imprisonment since he wastwo years old, the fact that he was the sole breadwinner for his own child and his non-violent history did nothing to persuade the judge to depart from the statutory minimum.

Related article on CNS:

Flare gun was real weapon

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  1. Guns Kill People says:

    10 years is obviously not enough.  It is not discouraging these scumbags.  Let's up it to 20 years.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wish more Judges were like Judge Quinn.  Cayman would be much better off.  He is fair and he is firm. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    From my youth I was a gun owner and avid hunter. I honed my skills as a marksman while in college, so I do know a bit about guns. In my opinion Marcus Manderson deserves to be locked up for a reasonable amount of time because if he did not have bad intentions he would not have modified the flare gun to accept regular ordinance. But 10 years for possessing what experts deem a questionably effective weapon is not justice, it is social vengeance.

    Rehabilitation is a key aim when the convicted person has not yet displayed a pattern of criminal behaviour. A mandatory sentence, while it may satisfy the lust of those in society who need a scapegoat for their frustrations about crime, is not going to enhance this man's chances at rehabilitation at all.

    Why would Manderson modify the flare gun anyway? An unmodified flare gun makes a dandy weapon at close range!  I have seen videos testing the anti-personnel potential of anordinary, non-modified orange plastic Orion flare gun shooting regular aerial flares.  In one remarkable vodeo, flares were shot at a hollow-core wood door from a range of 25 feet. The flares completely penetrated the door and hit the sand berm behind the target range and kept burning! While accuracy was horrid, at a closer range an unmodified flare gun would be a very effective and in my opinion potentially deadly weapon without the danger of possibly fatal catastrophic failure (and mandatory criminal sentencing) associated with weaponising a flare gun to accept regular ordnance. There are many news accounts of people being seriously injured and killed with ordinary flare guns.

    In reading expert test results of weaponised flare guns, including reports from the weapons testing arm of the U.S. ATF, I agree with the opinion that the gun would have been as much of a danger to the shooter as to the intended target. Moreover; if the police tests required the testers to further tinker with the gun in order to get it to fire with regular ammo, justice was not done in handing out this Draconian sentence.

    By the time Manderson serves out his sentence, he will probably have a grudge against society and he will have had ten years associating with serious hardened criminals to further hone his criminal craft. Worse yet, he will be returned to society with the stigma of the sentence and a "prison" mentality. His likelyhood to gain good employment will be significantly reduced.  A goodly of Manderson's adult life will have been spent in prison rather than trying to better his lot in life. So why should anyone be surprised if he turns to crime as a way to survive?  This sentence does not make me feel one bit safer.


    The judge referred to the fact that he ruled thus because the jury found it the modified flare gun was a lethal weapon? Who in the jury was familiar enough with guns to guide anyone? In my opinion the judge simply went along with the popular need for social vengeance. 

    I fail to see any pattern of reason in Judge Quinn's recent rulings: not long ago he set a man free who was convicted of the horrific sexual assault of a young girl, but now he gives 10 years to Manderson who has yet to harm anyone. God help these islands if this is where our system of justice is headed! Those here who posted Thumbs-Up to the 10 year sentence are fools!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sir, with all you know about firearms, with what we all see daily about the use of firearms in Cayman, and all the violent and potentially violent crime the Islands experience, it is difficult to see how you can call this sentence vengeance!

      I have such a device, I keep it on my boat as a safety device, but the moment someone takes measures to convert it to a weapon, then just as you can presume mine is held with good intent, then equally you may assume that the converted one is held for bad intent. If people like Justice Quinn, who I know to be a reasonable and intelligent man and judge, do not deterr people from bad intent, then we get what we deserve.

    • Guns Kill People says:

      If that is "social vengeance" then I am all for "social vengeance" and we need more of it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    With a ten year minimum sentence, you're going to find more people firing on cops

    • Anonymous says:

      Why did he get a mandatory sentence for a modified flare gun which was not involved in a robbery, he didn't use it against anyone, where as Robert Terry got his sentence reduced and he is also involved in the imporation of firearms into the Cayman Islands……I think the system has their sentences a little bit off dont you think????

      • Anonymous says:

        In Robert Terry's case he pleaded guilty. The mandatory minumum sentence is 7 years after a guitly plea. This can only be reduced in exceptional circumstances. If I recall correctly, Mr. Terry initially received 11 years, which was reduced to 9 years on appeal.

        The mandatory sentence if found guilty after a trial is 10 years. Again, a lower sentence can only be imposed in exceptional circumstances. Since no exceptional circumstances were found in this case, Justice Quinn had to impose the minimun 10 year sentence.

      • Anonymous says:

        No. Get the scum away from me and warehouse them all.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am glad that the judge handed down the full sentence. This is what is needed in order to clean up our streets!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Glad to know the maximum sentence in this case was handed down before a crime was committed because it seemes to me things get more lenient when you actually use something like this to kill someone.  At least this one is off the street….now for the many others to be caught before they have the chance to use theirs.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Another of these Caymanian families where the kids cannot break out of criminal activity. So sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is not justice. Another case where the mandatory minimum is applied, but should not in all reason apply. This law is not working and should be repealed.  Now another young child must live without a father, and the cycle continues. This young man is not violent. But I am willing to bet he will be in 10 years. I hope he appeals this sentence.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, we know that everyone in prison is innocent….

        "This young man is not violent." He just decided to walk around with an illegal deadly weapon.

      • Diogenes says:

        he is not violent, but carries around a lethal weapon – just for fun, presumably, with no intention of using it?   Yeah, right.  He may not bereformed in 7 years when he gets out – assuming good behaviour – but at least the community will be free of his actions for that period even if he doesnt learn a lesson.