PHILIPSBURG – The Court in First Instance sentenced Reinier Chun-Bon Cheung on Wednesday morning to 36 months of imprisonment, with 18 months suspended and 3 years of probation for the possession of a small weapons arsenal and 747 gram of marijuana. The court acquitted Cheung of theft and fencing a car that belonged to real auto and that was found on his property near the family’s Cake House supermarket on the L.B. Scott Road.
Investigators found at Cheung’s place on September 25 an air rifle, a double barreled hunting rifle a .22 caliber rifle, a Taurus revolver (caliber .38 special), a shotgun, a Beretta 25 Jetfire pistol, several firearm parts and 976 rounds of live ammunition for different weapons. Cheung also had 747 grams of marijuana in his possession.
The court rejected defense attorney Shaira Bommel that the search of Cheung’s office and home had been unlawful, because an anonymous tip that there were stolen cars on the Cake House property is insufficient to justify such a search.
The court ruled that the questioning Cheung about the cars raised a reasonable suspicion of guilt for fencing furthermore, the national ordinance State of Emergency gives police officers access to every place and allows them to investigate there and conduct searches; during the state of emergency, that was in force on September 25, 2017, the officers also were entitled to enter Cheung’s house and office without a warrant, nor did they have to identify themselves or inform Cheung about the purpose of the search.
The court noted in its considerations that the weapons cheung had in his possession are a risk to the social safety on the island and that this warrants strict action.
The public prosecutor demanded 4 years of imprisonment, with 1 year suspended and 3 years of probation at the trial on February 28.
The court arrived at a milder sentence because it attached more weight to the chaotic situation on the island after Hurricane Irma and to the personal circumstances of the defendant and his family – among them their display of charity and community spirit in the aftermath of the hurricane.