Borrowed jacket had bullets in it

Eight bullets in the pocket of a borrowed jacket led to a conviction under the Firearms Law after a Summary Court hearing last week.

Raul Estevan Martinez, 34, was fined $1,500 after pleading guilty to possession of ammunition without a firearms licence.

Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale accepted his explanation for having the bullets but said the reason for the law is to control what is a danger in the community.

Martinez’ residence could have been burgled, she pointed out; someone who found the ammunition could have then found access to a gun.

Normally a custodial sentence is passed in firearms cases, the magistrate said, but the facts in this case did not merit a prison term.

Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees told the court that Drug Task Force officers had stopped Martinez on 26 September, 2006, on suspicion of consuming ganja. They then went to his home and found 0.1 of a gram of vegetable matter in his room, along with cigarette papers.

They then searched the closet and found eight rounds of .22 ammunition in a jacket pocket. Martinez told the officers he had come by the bullets innocently.

He told his story again in court, assisted by Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey.

Martinez said his girlfriend’s grandmother had died in May and he was a pall bearer for the service. He needed to borrow a suit for the occasion. A friend brought him a three-piece suit plus another jacket borrowed from the friend’s brother-in-law, who was a licensed gun owner.

On the day of the funeral, the girlfriend’s brother also needed a jacket, so he borrowed the extra one. When he came back to the house, he showed Martinez what he had found in the pocket and suggested he be more careful.

The ammunition was in an envelope, which Martinez put in the pocket of another jacket in the closet. Afterwards, he forgot about it because of the stress of the day and grief for the lady they all loved so much.

Martinez acknowledged his ganja use, saying it helped his appetite and gave him a little of the strength taken away by his medical condition.

He told the court he had served Cayman for 11 years as a fireman, trained to save lives and protect property. He was diagnosed with lupus in 1997 and terminated from his job in 2004. As his health permitted, he now worked as a heavy equipment operator.

Magistrate Ramsay-Hale said the law does not permit medical use of ganja. Ordinarily she would have put Martinez in a drug programme. Because he was under the care of a physician, she advised him to make the doctor aware of these matters and get advice.

She fined him $500 for consumption of ganja and $500 for possession.

As to the ammunition, she accepted that the owner had been licensed to have it; that Martinez’ possession of it was accidental; and that he had failed to dispose of it because he forgot.

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