A MAN who said his dog found a backpack with a gun and ammunition while they were by a river has been ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.
Roger Li Awa’s heart condition was taken into consideration as the fine was imposed.
Li Awa, 60 of Maracas, St Joseph, appeared virtually on Wednesday before Tunapuna magistrate Adrian Darmanie charged with possession of a shotgun and five rounds of ammunition.
Defence attorney Shiva Boodoo told the court that his client suffered a heart attack over ten years ago and underwent coronary bypass surgery. He updated on Li Awa’s medical condition stating that he suffered another heart attack in November 2019. He also said Li Awa’s medical records stated he could not undergo further heart surgeries and he is susceptible to a third heart attack. He told the magistrate that Li Awa had to take a host of medication daily.
Due to his condition, he had retired from his job as a sales manager, Boodoo said. He also explained that after Li Awa stopped working he was advised by his doctor of the need to exercise. He said his client was recently walking along a river with his dog when the animal found a backpack containing the gun and ammunition.
Li Awa kept the items for six days at home. Police officers executed a search warrant at his house last week Thursday and the items were found in the bag and on a table. The father of two was charged by corporal Lezama.
Li Awa first faced the magistrate last week and was placed on bail to reappear on Wednesday. During his appearance before the magistrate, the gun was described as being old and rusty. It was also said that a fine for gun related offences could be allowed in exceptional circumstances. These were outlined to be Li Awa’s age, his health concerns and the present situation with Covid-19.
The magistrate weighed Li Awa being a person in the category of high risk for the virus with sending him to jail. He also considered the length of time Li Awa had the gun and ammunition, that he did not have a criminal record, co-operated with police and was contrite.
Li Awa was fined $25,000 for possession of the shotgun and $5,000 for having the ammunition. He had to pay $20,000 in one day and was given three months to pay the balance. In default of paying the fines, Li Awa will serve, concurrently, sentences of 16 months for having the gun and eight months for possession of the ammunition.