Three men remanded after gunshot

Three men have been charged with possession of a firearm following an incident on New Year’s Day when a gunshot was reported in the Rum Point area.

Appearing in Summary Court on Tuesday were David Ashton Whorms, 27; Cary Lee Esteban, 22; and Don Marcus Nixon, 42. Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale remanded them in custody until 30 January.

Crown Counsel Nicola Moore said police received a report on 1 January at 10.20pm from a member of the public who heard a gunshot. The caller was an experienced hunter and knew it was a live round.

Police responded and in the vicinity of Water Cay Road, saw a vehicle, which they stopped. The car was driven by Whorms. Esteban was the front seat passenger and Nixon was in the back. The officers said they smelled ganja and requested a search.

Just under the front passenger seat was a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver with three live rounds in it.

Swabs were taken from the three men to be tested for gunshot residue. Ms Moore said the results were expected in three weeks.

She also advised that the Crown objected to bail.

Under the amended Bail Law, a person accused of firearm possession is not entitled to bail.

Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey argued for bail on behalf of Whorms. He referred to two cases in which persons charged with possession of a firearm had been granted bail and, after trial, had been found not guilty. More recently, two local men had been charged in connection with a firearm and had been given bail.

Mr. Dixey said the severity of the potential sentence – 10 years mandatory minimum – was important, but could not be reason to refuse bail. What should concern the court was whether the defendant was a flight risk and what was the likelihood of his not returning to court.

Whorms is a Caymanian with firm ties to this country through his family and he lacks experience outside this country; as such, he should be granted bail, Mr. Dixey submitted.

He questioned whether no entitlement to bail meant no bail at all or no favourable entitlement. He indicated there was disagreement as to whether a judge has discretion and what might be considered special circumstances in which bail could be granted.

Finally, he told the court that pressure was being applied unfairly to Whorms because he was told that if he didn’t ‘own up’, his wife would be arrested. Mrs. Whorms was the owner of the car in which the gun was found.

The magistrate said she would take the general comments about the Bail Law as applying to all three men.

Attorney Ben Tonner gave details of Esteban’s background, noting his Caymanian status, family ties and a friend willing to stand surety. He said his client denied all knowledge of the firearm and had no idea whom it belonged to.

Mr. Tonner suggested the court could consider giving them a curfew.

Nixon was represented by Attorney John Furniss, who acknowledged his client’s previous convictions, but emphasised that there was nothing involving firearms and no recent failures to surrender when bailed.

Nixon had answered the officers’ questions and had admitted smoking ganja, the attorney pointed it out. Given where the firearm was found, it was not something that could have been slipped there by Nixon from the back seat, Mr. Furniss said.

The magistrate said there were apparently two schools of thought about exceptional circumstances regarding bail. She did not intend to grant bail in this matter, but if the attorneys appealed to the Grand Court, some statement of principle might be made. Such a statement would be of interest in the Summary Court, which faces so many bail applications, she commented.