Published On: Thu, May 17th, 2018

Bad birthday: arrested for gun possession

Court House Philipsburg square

PHILIPSBURG – The Court in First Instance sentenced Bryan Giovanni Henson to 15 months of imprisonment, with 3 months suspended and 2 years of probation, for firearm possession on Wednesday. The prosecution had demanded 5 months straight and defense attorney Geert Hatzmann pleaded for an acquittal.

It was not the best birthday for Henson when he was arrested on February 6 at the car wash where he worked. That day he turned 34. Ten days earlier, the police received a tip that Henson was carrying a gun and officers had kept an eye on him.

But when he was arrested, Henson said that he had taken the gun away from a 15-year old boy just an hour earlier, because the kid “did not have good intentions”.

During a search of his house, officers found two rounds of live ammunition. The defendant claimed that he’d found the bullets in rental cars he’d been cleaning.

The prosecutor noted that the defendant’s story does not stand in the way of a conviction and that he does not believe it anyway.

In 2012, Henson was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for a heist at the Caribbean Gems jewelry store and for firearm possession; the heist netted the burglars jewelry worth $340,000.

Gun bullets man shotThe prosecutor referred to Henson’s interest in firearms in the past. “There are images of weapons on his phone, bullets in his house and he was consciously in the possession of a weapon. The message I want to send is this one: If you are caught with a weapon you will go to prison.”

The prosecutor demanded 15 months of imprisonment.

Attorney Geert Hatzmann told the court that the arrest of his client was unlawful, because there was no order to arrest. “The police had no business being at his work place. The suspicion only arose when they were in the process of arresting him.”

Hatzmann also declared the house search unlawful. He asked the court to declare the prosecution inadmissible, or to exclude the gun and the bullets from evidence. In that case, the result would be an acquittal.

If none of that worked, Hatzmann asked the court for a punishment equal to pretrial custody, combined with a conditional sentence and possibly community service. He pointed to the dismal detention conditions at the Pointe Blanche prison.

“It is time to put pressure from the prosecutor’s office and from the court on the government to finally build a decent prison by issuing lower sentences.”

But the court did not follow the attorney’s arguments. It ruled that the arrest was lawful and that Henson’s story was implausible and not verifiable.