Masa Found Guilty In Gun Case

Javon Liburd, Staff Reporter | 2 Opinions
Published: May 19, 2017 7:24 pm AST
Ramoamasagana Pemberton, popularly known as Masa at court December 4, 2015
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Ramoamasagana ‘Masa’ Pemberton was found guilty in a matter where he is accused of keeping an unlicensed firearm, namely a Glock .40 caliber pistol, and unlawful possession of 15 rounds of ammunition.

The 26 year-old BVIslander, who resides at Purcell Estate, made an appearance earlier today, May 19, at the Magistrate’s Court, where the decision was handed down by Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-Dabreo.

Prior the court’s decision, Magistrate Dabreo stated that the crown, led by Counsel O’Neal Simpson, successfully proved their case against the accused.

“I find that the crown has proven that he kept the firearm.”

Magistrate Dabreo also stressed that the facts against the accused were clear, and indicated that he was in possession of the forbidden items, as his prints were found on the trigger guard, trigger, slide, hand-grip and magazine of the weapon.

The court also noted that the evidence given by the accused was not a credible one.

“Having examined the explanation that was given by the defendant, I do not believe the defendant's explanation to be credible.”

The charges brought against Masa stemmed from officers finding the items on April 21st, 2016, on an empty lot in Purcell Estate. The items were linked to the accused through a match of his fingerprints and those collected from the items.

Masa pleaded not guilty to the charges on July 5, 2016.

In an earlier appearance, the court heard that it was sometime in August 2015, when Masa first came into contact with the weapon.

He explained that while cleaning a space to park a scooter in the neighbouring lot, the items fell out of a tarpaulin as he shifted its location.

Masa told the court that he never reported his findings to local authorities as he didn’t want to be linked to their discovery and be targeted by its rightful owner.

He explained that he had borrowed the bike because his vehicle was being fixed, adding that after 15 minutes of the scooter being parked in the spot he had just cleared, he moved it and took it back to its rightful owner.

This raised some concerns for both the crown and the court during the trial of this matter, who questioned why he would go through all that trouble to clear a space for the bike, only to return it to its owner 15 minutes after.

Masa stated that he took the bike back as he didn’t feel it was in a safe location, and didn’t want to be linked to anything, keeping in mind what he had just discovered.

According to court notes, on April 21st, 2016 around 5:25 pm, officers received information that led them to conduct a search of a premises located in the Purcell Estate area.

Upon reaching the area, a silver box was found by a sheet of galvanize roofing. It was taken to the Road Town Police Station and opened in the presence of other officers. In the box was a black 9mm Glock .40 handgun with an extended magazine loaded with ammunition.

The following day, officers dismantled the gun and took swabs for DNA and fingerprints.

On June 30, detectives conducted further investigation and visited the home of Masa in Purcell Estate. There, the officers met Masa's father and armed with a warrant, detectives conducted a search, but nothing illegal was found.

It was recorded that Masa, who was not at home at the time, then visited the police station around 7:45 am where he was formerly cautioned about the gun. He voluntarily did a cautioned police audio interview where he said that he had never seen any firearm, let alone touch it.

However, a second interview was conducted later in the day where he changed his position and said that he had seen the gun during the course of 2015.

Masa told police that he was in the process of parking a scooter he was keeping for his friend when he saw the box and he went to investigate it. Upon doing so, the gun fell out of the box. The defendant said that he then placed the items back in the box and pushed all the items to the location where he found it.

"He states that he further observed the gun with the magazine in the case and did in fact handle them," said Simpson.

The prosecutor indicated that Masa told police he did not report the discovery because he did not want to be thought of as the person being in custody of the said items. He also said that he did not wish to be identified as a witness in the matter as he feared legitimately for his safety.

In relation to the fingerprints, Simpson explained that between April 22, 2016 and June 30, 2016, further investigations were conducted involving Masa with the use of fingerprint processes. He said Masa had consented to having his finger and palm prints recorded. Those were then compared to those lifted from the firearm box and yielded a positive match.

The accused, who is represented by Mr. Patrick Thompson, will return to court on June 16 for sentencing.

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