L to R – Stephan Francis of Temple Street, Arima; the arms, ammunition and marijuana seized by police in September 2021. (Images courtesy TTPS)

An Arima man was sentenced to four years’ hard labour after pleading guilty to possession of firearm and possession of ammunition, when he appeared in court virtually this week.

Official police reports state that 23-year-old STEPHAN FRANCIS (also known as ‘Steffi 6’) of Temple Street, was also charged with possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking, when he appeared before Magistrate Brambhanan Dubay, in the Arima Magistrates’ First Court, on Monday 17th January 2022.

Francis was sentenced to two years’ hard labour for the charge of possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking; four years’ hard labour for possession of a firearm; and four years’ hard labour for possession of ammunition. The sentences are to run concurrently.

The Police Service notes that in September 2021, a series of exercises coordinated by ACP Belfon, Supt. Edwards and Inspectors Pitt, Ward and Black, were conducted at Temple Street, Arima. During one such exercise, on 6th September 2021, a search warrant was executed at the home of a suspect, which resulted in officers finding an AR-15 rifle loaded with a magazine containing 15 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, along with 1.8 kilogrammes of marijuana. The suspect was not at the premises at the time of the search and three warrants subsequently were issued for his arrest.

Following further investigation and intelligence gathering, efforts to arrest the suspect bore fruit when the man—who had been in hiding—was held in the Northern Division, on Saturday 15th January 2022, by officers of the Arima Criminal Investigations Department (CID), the Northern Division Task Force and the Operations Unit.

Stephan Francis was charged with the offences on Monday 17th January 2022, by PC Noreiga of the Arima CID.