Gun licence peddler jailedafter failing to deliver

Patrick Bentam, who admitted to taking a sum of money from another man and promising to deliver a firearm licence was yesterday sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

Bentam pleaded guilty before acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry to a charge of obtaining money by pretence. The charge stated that between November 2 and November 26, at Georgetown, with intent to defraud, he obtained from Nicose Rafickie the sum of $108,000, by representing himself as being in a position to obtain a firearm license for him, knowing same to be false.

In addressing the court, prosecutor Stephen Telford said that the two men are known to each other and that Rafickie had indicated to Bentam that he wanted a firearm license. Bentham subsequently said that he would be able to acquire the document for him.

According to Telford, Bentam then told Rafickie that he needed to pay the sum of $108,000, in order to get the licence—an arrangement that Rafickie admitted.

After some time had passed and Bentam failed to deliver on his word, Telford told the court that Rafickie became suspicious and worried and was eventually prompted to approach the police, with whom he filed a report.
A police investigation later led to Bentam’s arrest.

When given a chance to respond, the unrepresented Bentam, in his own defence, said that after making the initial arrangement with Rafickie, they entered a deadlock. He said he later told Rafickie that he would return his money.

Bentam contended that at no time did he promise Rafickie that he would get the licence for him. Bentam said his exact words to the complainant were: “I can help you in the process.”

According to Bentam, Rafickie agreed to be repaid and as a result he found it surprising that the matter had eventually engaged the attention of the court. 

After hearing the case, the Magistrate informed Bentam that she would be sentencing him to a period of imprisonment for 12 months for the charge. Meanwhile, the Magistrate also issued a stern warning to Rafickie, telling him that no person, except the Commissioner of Police, under the mandate of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has the authority to grant firearm licences.

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