By Anita Nembhard
Free Lance Reporter
A Belize City family, including an elderly woman and children, has been spared serious jailtime for possession of a TEC-9 submachine gun after a teenage member of the family claimed sole responsibility for the outlawed weapon.
On Thursday, 18-year-old Richard Mervin Bennett Jr; along with his mother, 47-year-old Natalie Marie Bennett; his father, 58-year-old Richard Bennett Sr. and their daughters: 21-year-old Richardine Kimberly Bennett; 20-year-old Dedire Nicole Bennett; Dedrie Pearl Bennett, and two high-school students, ages 14 and 17, were all dragged before the court and arraigned after an early morning raid at their Magazine Road house.
At 2:00 p.m. on Thursday the family of eight was brought to the Court to answer to the charge of ‘kept prohibited firearm’ and ‘kept unlicensed ammunition’.
Bennett Jr. pled guilty to the offense while his other relatives all entered ‘not guilty’ pleas.
Bennett Jr. told the court he had the gun for his protection. He said he and a friend found the gun when someone threw it out of a moving vehicle. Bennett Jr. said it fell into a nearby bushy area near his home so he went to retrieve it and hid in inside the family yard.
Bennett Jr. said no one in his family, including his mother, father and sisters, knew that he had hidden the gun there. He said he kept the gun for protection because he is involved in a street ‘beef’. He added that his enemies have been passing near his house recently and he fears for his life.
Bennett pled guilty, despite being advised to withdraw his plea, so his family could go free.
Magistrate Carlon Mendoza then imposed a sentence of three years for the prohibited firearm and five years for ‘kept unlicensed ammunition’. He ordered that the sentences run concurrently so Bennett Jr. will serve only five years instead of eight.
The firearm, a TEC-9, which is considered a prohibited firearm, was found in the yard during a search by PC Howard Arzu and other members of the Police Department, along with the K-9 Unit on 10 Magazine Road.