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Barnett jailed for shooting rival gang member

A mentally-challenged gunman who shot a former friend after they got caught up in rival gangs has been jailed for 25 years.

Noet Barnett, who has a mental age of nine or 10, left victim Jeremiah Dill with multiple gunshot wounds. Prosecutors believe the attempted murder was revenge by Barnett, a member of the 42 gang, against the victim as a member of Parkside.

Barnett, 25, told detectives the pair had not spoken since “war” broke out between the factions, even though he was the godfather to Mr Dill's child.

Three of Barnett's cousins, who had links to 42, were murdered in the months before the crime. Barnett held the Parkside gang responsible, and police believe he shot Mr Dill in a bid to avenge their deaths.

Mr Dill was attacked by Barnett in broad daylight as he chatted with friends outside the One Stop grocery store on Parsons Road, Pembroke, around 10am on October 4, 2010.

He suffered one gunshot wound to each thigh and one to his buttock as he ran away.

Mr Dill, 28, grew up with Barnett in Spanish Point, Pembroke. Barnett is godfather to his young daughter and was in a relationship with his sister, Tookie Binns, at the time of the shooting.

A key witness for the prosecution was a woman who was chatting with Mr Dill when he was shot, and ended up running for her life.

Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field said during yesterday's sentencing hearing: “The defendant had no regard for the safety of innocent members of the public.”

The gun Barnett used to shoot Mr Dill was found in bushes on East Gate Lane, Pembroke on December 22 2010, more than 11 weeks after the attack. A ballistics expert linked the weapon, a Rexio RJ Serie .38 Special revolver, to the shooting of Mr Dill and three other shootings in Bermuda, all believed to have been attacks on Parkside.

Barnett's DNA was found on the gun. A jury found him guilty in December of attempted murder, gun possession and handling a firearm.

Defence lawyer Victoria Pearman read to the court a letter from child welfare campaigner Sheelagh Cooper, who has known Barnett since he was a young child [see letter attached below as a PDF]. Mrs Cooper described his traumatic upbringing and said he was failed by the education system.

Ms Pearman also reminded the judge of evidence from psychologist Guy Fowle during the trial that Barnett has a very low IQ and a mental age of nine or 10. Dr Fowle said this could make him more susceptible to following the directions of others.

“I'm not going to try to pretend that these offences are not serious. That would be foolish and untrue,” said Ms Pearman. “But it's important for us to focus on this case and the specific offender in this case.”

She also pointed out that the victim escaped with relatively minor flesh wounds and was discharged from hospital within hours of the shooting.

Sentencing Barnett, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves condemned him not only for shooting Mr Dill but also firing in the direction of the woman the victim was talking to.

“He continued to shoot at the victim as the victim fled along the highway, thus raising the real danger that other innocents could have been seriously injured,” he added.

Mr Justice Greaves ordered that Barnett must serve at least twelve-and-a-half years before he can be considered for parole.

Reacting to news of the sentence last night, Mrs Cooper noted the cost of jailing Barnett, based on an estimate of $85,000 per year, would be more than $2 million.

“What that sentence suggests is that we as a community are willing to spend more than $2 million on a young man that had we been there for him when he was a little boy or a teenager at school we may have spent maybe at most $10,000 or even $20,000 getting him the help that he needed to stay in school and get the educational support services that he needed.

“It just does not make any economic sense, not to mention the human cost.

“Unless we change the way we are treating this bottom economic quartile of our population we will have to incarcerate more and more young men for ridiculously long sentences but they will continue to be replaced by the same disadvantaged disaffected disconnected disenfranchised young men.

“Unfortunately neither specific nor general deterence is particularly effective when dealing with the kind of perfect storm of conditions that we are experiencing at the moment.

“'Lock 'em up and throw away the key' is an approach that will only bankrupt our community and further alienate our young men.

“We have to decide where we are going to spend our money to have the best result and I would argue that every penny is better spent at the front end.”

Noet Barnett

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Published February 16, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 16, 2012 at 8:35 am)

Barnett jailed for shooting rival gang member

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