Good character can’t beat mandatory gun rap

| 30/07/2013

(CNS): A CUC linesman who was convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm in May after he found a handgun on some derelict land in Prospect was unable to persuade the Court of Appeal that he should not have received the mandatory seven years for his offence. Trevor Burke, QC, who represented Michael Powell (42) in his appeal case on Monday, argued that his client was of exemplary character with no criminal intention who had made a stupid mistake when he took the gun he found into his possession and, therefore, these were exceptional circumstances that the judge could have considered in order not to impose the mandatory seven years. Powell was sentenced after he pleaded guilty but the judge found no exceptional circumstances in the case and imposed the mandatory jail time. 

Burke submitted that Powell, who is a father of five, was not just good character but exemplary and it was evident that he had no criminal intent when he took the gun. Burke said that when Powell discovered his trusted police contact had left the RCIPS, he had decided to wait until there was a gun amnesty, when he would hand the weapon in. However, an unrelated matter brought the police to his house last year and as a result he told them about the weapon and how he had found the gun some two months earlier.

The court heard that it was not the first time that Powell had discovered a weapon and had also recovered ganja while out and about, and had handed these things to the police. Burke said that, given that there was no criminal intention and that Powell believed he was doing the right thing taking the gun out of criminal circulation, the seven year jail time was an awfully long time for what was a stupid mistake.

He told the court that his client had even sat as a foreman on a jury during a major murder trial and so was very well aware of the danger guns posed to the community, which was why he believed it was safer to remove the gun rather than leave it for the criminal who had hidden it to return and pick it up.

While the Court of Appeal judges said they were sympathetic to the case, they, like the judge, did not find any exceptional circumstances. Describing his decision to take the gun into his possession and keep it for some two months as “extraordinary behaviour”, they said that being of good characterwith no criminal intent was not an exceptional circumstance and he had made a decision to keep the gun.

The appeal judges said that the decision about exceptional circumstances was one for the sentencing judge to make unless it was so obviously wrong. Referring to various authorities, they said that, despite their sympathy for the appellant, they could not find that the judge was wrong and emphasised that even exemplary character was not enough.

“It is impossible not to have sympathy for the appellant, who has created a personal disaster, but it is a matter we must put aside as required and dismiss the appeal,” the president of the Court of Appeal, Sir John Chadwick, said as he confirmed the seven year prison term.

Related article on CNS:

Gun found in bushes earns CUC linesman 7 years jail

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  1. Anonymous says:

    People give the man a break!he made a mistake and will have to pay for it , who knows what their next mistake might be and what it might cost , everyone has to in someway for their mistakes this is how he will be paying for his , it can get worse so don't rejoice too much.

    • Anonymous says:

      Leaving the milk out overnight is a mistake.  Knowingly keeping an illegal gun is a serious crime.  From the majority of the posts on this thread, is seems like karma is working just the way it should.

  2. Anonymous says:

    "Good character can't beat mandatory gun rap" – Odd because secretly holding onto a gun is not something that a good character would do.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s amazing that such stupidity and ignorance lay in the midst of our so-called Christian society. Many of those that know Mike a.k.a "Kirby" knows a true individual – what you see is what you get! 

    Reality is for all those that are unaware – The so-called innocent young man that Mike supposedly threatened has a rap for domestic abuse.

    For those of you throwing your slander you are most likely those that have benefited from his bank roll.  You same individuals are quick to post your remarks and comments in regards to his current position but fact of the matter is you all will never truly know.

    It speaks loudly for an individual to hold a job for 24 + years with an unblemished record, in comparison to some who are repeatedly terminated from their places of employment and in turn lived from Mike’s bank roll. It’s no secret that he has 5 children nor that he did not reside with any of them, but it does not negate from the fact that he provided very well for them.

    He was known to carry guns – yes again; FACT- he was the holder of a firearms license- FACT.  There will always be speculation as to how this weapon came into his possession however it is clear that he has never denied the FACT that it was.

    For the reader and poster which stated that he is a known drug dealer – Chica I'm sorry Mike dropped you for another. You have got to live and let live and stop throwing stones. It’s obvious that you had a personal past with Mike. So Instead please concentrate on keeping your windows and curtains drawn that your neighbors can’t see what’s happening and in turn talk you business.

    You seem to have a wealth of knowledge about Mike – maybe you should have been so open with your comments and FACTS to the authorities to assist in bringing his reign of bank rolling drug dealing activities and woman beating to an end. So, please be sure to taste your words before you spit them out as I’m sure having to swallow them may prove rather distasteful.

    He has no previous convictions for such an offense, or for any of the other allegations that you alluded to! FACT

    As human’s it is our entitlement to make mistakes, that’s why we repent and God forgives. And after all that is how we learn. There is a difference when an individual makes a single, regrettable mistake than when you become complacent with certain actions and behaviors, for example: crashing your car on more than one occasion for drunk driving. That is not a simple act of stupidity!, it’s sheer ignorance and bad habit!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just shows never admit to anything, if the poilce had found the gun in the house, simply claim you know nothing about it, as other cases have proved in Cayman the police have a difficult time proving ownship of a gun, unless it is admitted.

      It appears being truthful in these type of cases is just a bad idea.

      His first mistake was keeping hold of the gun, his second was admitting to it. Admitting to ownership mean 7 years at least, denying it menas about a 10% of 7 years, 90% of being around for your 5 children..

  4. Just Commentin' says:

    My take on the matter is that Powell was a moron to pick up the gun in the first place. I would have stood by and called the police immeditately on my cell phone.

    In my opinion, gun or no gun, being a moron is reason enough for a custodial sentence. Moreover, being a moron does not fit my definition of having "exemplary character". Northward is full of morons; that is who it was built for, morons like Powell.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes he was a moron for picking the weapon up and keeping it in the first place, YET you have a criminal in jail now that was importing firearms into the cayman islands and he got his sentence reduced to nine years…how come????? He was IMPORTING FIREARMS INTO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS, a big investigation from the United States was taking place and he was involved in it, yet you have one man who didn't think and yes categorize him as a moron, but nevertheless he basically got the same sentence…and you are going to tell me that the court system here is fair…THINK NOT!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Some of you may read the above and sympathize with this man based on his lawyer’s words that sound oh so good.

    But those of us who know Mike aka* Kirby… know that he been had the gun(s) and that whole story on finding it was and is a bunch of BS!!!!!

    The police came to his house because he threatened a man with the same gun! He is not of good character because someone of good character wouldn’t pull a gun on a young man and threaten to kill him. It’s strange how they always tell one side but forget to disclose those very important details/facts.

    And that whole bit on he has 5 kids……. ummm he has five but he lived/lives with none!!!! FACT!!!!!

    This guy not only carried gun(s) he’s a woman beater and drug dealer.  Not and asset to society.

     But now s*** hit the fan he in appeal court crying like he’s the victim. Dont forget this is Cayman and we know you so come off the BS!!!

  6. Caymanian Culture says:

    From the earlier postings (June 2013 -related CNS story) it sounds like this person was not 100% pure and was known to own guns, have domestic troubles that led to police reports, and even though not having previous convictions, he was known to the police as a character to watch.

    Sounds like he knew what he was doing by keeping the loaded weapon and got caught.  Well done courts.  Keep imposing these sentences to the letter of the law….and tell all the teen gang members this is what happens when you touch a gun.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Pure, and totally inaccurate conjecture. Of all the gun crimes on-island, this is the only one where all circumstances were not taken into account (and did exist) and an inustice was done.  The only injustice with other gun crimes is that the culprits don't get long enough.

      • PePe le Pew says:

        He admitted to knowingly having a gun in his possession for more than 2 months – so there are no "other" circumstances that ought to be considered!  Period.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mandatory sentences often prove to be problematic. They are usually introduced as an emotional response to an outbreak of some type of crime, and then catch out people with no criminal intent. I can't forget the guy who lost his just-refurbished yacht because he got caught in a storm and had to find safe harbour in Cayman. Customs found a ganga seed in his ashtray, and because of the way the law is written, he was charged with the importation of drugs. He lost his yacht which was subsequently destroyed by Ivan, a wickedly unjust punishment. In my opinion, the judge should always be free to adjust the penalty to the particular circumstances of the crime, which in this case might have been 6 months in jail, just for being stupid.

  8. Anonymous says:

    All criminal appeals should be done on a "no win no fee" basis.  Bet that would reduce the amoubt of public funds wasted on the large number of unsuccesful appeals in Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    He was trying to paint a pretty picturefor his day in court when he handed in stale weed and other junk, but it back fired , he only has a clean record because the poor women he beat and threatened were to scared to talk , no more showing off at south coast bar with big rolls of cash for at least 4 years.

  10. PePe le Pew says:

    Sounds unfair doesn't it, until you ask yourself why in the world one would keep a loaded gun at one's house, knowing fully well that it would net you 7 years in the cool tank…  Something stinks about this story, and I'm pretty sure that the judges felt the same.

    • Anonymous says:

      The man was a licensed gun owner already.  This gun (that he found) was not licensed hence he was prosecuted when found to be in possession.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear Governor, please fix this with your clemency power.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I hate guns.  I hate crime. And I dont quite believe this gentleman's story.  BUT, 7 years in this case.  Sheesh.  That seems a bit harsh.   Yes he had a weapon. But, he didnt do anything with it.  Seems harsh to me.  Not sure this is best for him, his children, and society.   Just my opinion.