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Armed robber has sentenced slashed

Jaron Roberts

A St George’s man jailed for 16 years for his part in a spree of robberies has had his sentence reduced by almost one third on appeal.Jaron Roberts, 22, of Great Bay Road, targeted non-Bermudians across three parishes on the night of March 14, 2011, driving a motorcycle for an accomplice who threatened victims with an imitation gun.Even though Roberts did not personally handle the weapon, he received a mandatory ten-year sentence for the use of a firearm in an indictable offence, plus an additional six years for robbery, when he was sentenced in January, 2012.But the Court of Appeal has now ruled that the combined length of Roberts’ sentence was not “proportionate to to the gravity of the offences”, reducing it to 11 years.The Appeals panel akowledged that the six years handed down for three robberies and three attempted robberies was “a proper sentence for that group of offences” and one that Roberts “entirely deserved”.The panel also acknowledged that the minimum mandatory penalty for using a firearm or imitation firearm is ten years in jail.“It is a harsh penalty, but is the will of those whose duty and power it is to frame the type of society they wish to create in Bermuda and to meet ‘a serious and growing societal danger’,” the panel recognised.“Whether the firearms offences require a penalty of an additional term of imprisonment for ten years is a matter for further consideration.”Outlining the facts of the case, the panel wrote: “The appellant was 20 years old at the time and was never in trouble with the law before. An imitation firearm was used, although the victims would have been unaware of this.“Unfortunately, his refusal to testify against his friend, [Kamrone] Whiting, leads to the conclusion that his loyalty to and protection of his friend is of greater concern to him than the harm caused to the victims — tourists, guest workers and visitors to the Island who could be classified as the most vulnerable and the least skilful in negotiating the hazards likely to be encountered on Bermuda’s narrow roads.”Concluding that the principle of proportionality should apply “to ensure that the penalty fits the crime”, the panel said: “A sentence of imprisonment for 16 years is disproportionate and we reduce it to a term of imprisonment for 11 years — six years imprisonment for the robberies and attempted robberies and a consecutive sentence of five years imprisonment for the firearm offences.”Prior to sentencing Roberts last year, Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons, had been told that he had been led astray by “so-called friends” after he grew frustrated with his motocross biking career.And prosecutor Susan Mulligan had told the court: “He had a good home and everything he wanted. He was about to set off on his dreams, and his parents were helping him. There is no explanation for his behaviour.”But the panel showed little sympathy for the fact that Robert’s future career was in tatters.“The appellant was hoping to go to the United States of America where he would enrol in a programme which would lead to a position in the field of cycle racing,” the panel noted.“As a result of his conviction for the offences which are being considered by the court, there is nothing that we can do which would help him to achieve that aim. By his actions, he has closed this door to himself.”