This handout photo shows three of the handguns seized by police as part of Project Kirby, an undercover operation targeting traffickers.
Police handout / Windsor Star
The courts “must react meaningfully” by sending the community strong messages of deterrence when it comes to firearm crimes, a Windsor judge said Monday before handing a 39-month sentence to a Toronto gun trafficker.“The prevalence of firearms in criminal offences in this city is alarming,” said Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas in sentencing Phillip Kwaku Nkrumah, 34.Nkrumah was packing a handgun when he met in a Windsor family restaurant during the dinner hour to negotiate the sale of a Dan Wesson .357 magnum to a potential buyer. That purchaser, who paid $5,000 for the gun, turned out to be an undercover police officer, and the transaction in March 2016 was videotaped and resulted in one of 10 arrests as part of Project Kirby.The defence argued that Nkrumah was involved in only a single firearm transaction within a group that was much more criminally involved in gun trafficking, but assistant Crown attorney Scott Pratt said “he knew this gun would go up the 401 to Toronto to be used in an illegal gambling facility.“He knew very well the risks that firearms presented to the community.”On the gun trafficking conviction alone, Nkrumah faced a mandatory minimum three-year sentence. He had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession charges.“I’m truly thankful nobody got hurt,” Nkrumah told the judge before his sentence was read out. He said it was “something that will never happen again,” and that he was “truly sorry for what I’ve done.”Nkrumah himself was on the receiving end of the illegal firearms trade when he was shot three times at close range in a downtown Windsor alley on Sept. 28, 2015. The trial of his shooter, Nicholas McCullough, ended abruptly in February when the 25-year-old pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.Nkrumah was the Crown’s main witness in that trial but described by Justice Renee Pomerance as “less than cooperative.”Defence lawyer Maria Carroccia said that shooting “had a profound affect” on her client, who was later found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Both she and Nkrumah explained that that experience was a factor in the gun trafficking incident just months later.But Pratt said the gun trafficking conspiracy that Nkrumah was part of was “not a case of having a weapon for protection. This was a business transaction (involving) a very large amount of money for one firearm.”Arrested on March 11, 2016, several weeks after police put out an alert for the wanted man, Nkrumah was released on bail after 33 days but then was rearrested that July for a breach of his release conditions pending trial. After a fruther eight months in custody, Nkrumah was released again on stricter bail conditions, including having to wear an ankle bracelet.Carroccia said her client had to pay to be on electronic surveillance and that it cost him $15,250 over the following two years.A once-promising basketball player and the first in his family to graduate from university, his crime “shocked and surprised” his close relatives and those who know him, said Carroccia.Thomas handed Nkrumah a sentence of three years and three months, or 1,170 days. The judge gave him 429 days credit for the 286 days spent in pre-sentence custody and 240 days credit for the 765 days spent in “strict house arrest.” The balance of 501 days, or about 16 months, will be served in jail.Nkrumah will then be on probation for 18 months. He is prohibited for life from possessing firearms, and he was ordered to submit a blood sample for a police DNA databank used to help solve crimes.Related
Project Kirby led to the arrest of 10 people following an investigation by local, provincial and federal officers on both sides of the border. Over 100 charges were filed, and weapons, including a machine gun, two kilograms of cocaine, drug trafficking paraphernalia and C$67,000 and US$10,500 in cash were seized.Curtis Marcelles Elliott will be the last of the Project Kirby suspects to be tried in court in September in Windsor.firstname.lastname@example.org/schmidtcity