Ex-US soldier who was caught with a loaded gun at Robert Mugabe International Airport escapes jail

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FORMER United States soldier, Ronald Leon Johnson, who pleaded guilty to boarding with a firearm in a passenger aeroplane and possessing an unregistered firearm, has been handed a wholly suspended sentence of 24 months in prison.

He received a $30 000 fine (or 90 days in jail) on the first count.

On the second count he was ordered to pay a $20 000 fine, or risk being jailed, for 90 days.

An additional 12 months prison sentence, for the second count, was also wholly suspended.

The 9mm fireman, and the 45 rounds of ammunition, were forfeited by the State.

Magistrate Stanford Mambanje said he considered Johnson’s personal circumstances as well as the law.

“In sentencing, the court looked at his personal circumstances, he is aged 56 and has two children and is employed in the US and will lose his job if placed in custody.

“Before arriving at an appropriate sentence, the court has to ponder on what it wants to achieve in the sentence, and punishments differ on the gravity of the offence and it is about rehabilitating the offender, rather than to punish him.

“I would assume, and take as an aspect of mitigation, that the unfortunate arrest, during a tour with his fiancé, will spoil the visit and the fond memories he had when he visited this country.

“The aggravating features are consistent with the reckless risk he took by carrying a weapon across continents from America to Africa.

“While the State insisted on a stiffer sentence, it must be noted that this cannot be achieved by a harsh penalty.

“He’s unlikely to be a security threat, even though the State tried to depict him as a security threat and, if the State wanted to portray him as a potential terrorist and threat, they should have been clear.”

Witness Mabhaudhi and Lancelot Mutsokoti appeared for the State.

— HMetro


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