Justice Felix Cacchione said he was setting an example of the serious consequences imposed on people involved with gun violence in his nine-and-a-half year prison sentence for Jerrell Johnston Thursday.

“Citizens live in fear of the presence in their community . . . of hoodlums with handguns,” Cacchione said before delivering his sentence inside Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

In February, a jury found Johnston, 27, guilty of the attempted murder of Vantino Beals in December 2006.


Johnston will serve six years and eight months of his sentence in a federal prison because Cacchione gave him double credit for the 16 months he spent on remand while on trial for second-degree murder in connection with the case.

In February, Jonhston and Nathaniel Sparks were found not guilty of two shooting deaths that occurred outside an after-hours club in East Preston the same night Beals was shot. Sparks was also found not guilty of attempted murder at trial.

In Thursday’s sentence, Johnston was also restricted from owning any kind of firearm or restricted weapon for the rest of his life.

Although Cacchione credited Johnston for his good behaviour while on a bail release program during trial, he continued to say his sentence “should reflect society’s abhorrence to those who choose to live by the gun.”

This sentence fell within the eight to 10 year range that Crown lawyers requested at sentencing. Crown lawyer Greg Lenehan said sending a message about gun violence was a consideration in their request.

The sentence was higher than the four and a half years requested by defence lawyer Kevin Burke. Burke declined comment to reporters after the sentence was given.

Johnston hugged family members and supporters Thursday in court before he was taken into custody after the sentence was delivered.

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