Jonathan Mellard was found not guilty
last week after trial for possession of an unlicensed firearm – ammunition – in
West Bay in February this year.
Justice Algernon Smith accepted the
arguments of Defence Attorney John Furniss – that Mellard’s admission to police
should be excluded from evidence and there was no other evidence.
After reviewing what happened while
Mellard was in custody, the judge concluded that Mellard “was induced to make
the admission by the promise that he would not be charged if he did so, an
implicit promise to my mind”.
was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and taken into custody. Two
days later, he was interviewed by Constable Howard Campbell; he denied being in
possession of any firearm.
Less than an hour later, Mr. Campbell
was supervising Mellard as he smoked a cigarette behind the police station.
Mellard said he could give the officer a gun and some bullets if the officer
would not charge him and if he could get bail.
The judge said Mr. Campbell’s response
was important. The officer’s evidence was that he told Mellard he could not
promise him bail or anything. But if Mellard should hand in a gun to the
police, Mr. Campbell would speak to his supervisor and it was more than likely
Mellard would not be charged for it. Mr. Campbell further said that if it were
his decision, he would not charge because he would be happy to get a firearm
off the streets. But it was not his decision.
Mr. Campbell said he informed Sergeant
Oremule of Mellard’s proposal. About 20 minutes later, Mr. Campbell, Mr.
Oremule and another officer escorted Mellard to Batabano Road where he pointed
out an area and said that was where he hid the gun, but it wasn’t there.
Mellard directed them to another spot
and said the gun could be there but he had been so drunk he couldn’t remember.
The next day, the officers went back
with a metal detector and found an Orion 12-gauge signal flare with one round
of ammunition in it.
Mellard was then taken to the scene,
shown the gun and asked by Mr. Campbell if that was the same gun he had told
them about yesterday. Mellard replied, “Mr. Campbell, big man, big man, you
told me I would not get charged….”
Mr. Oremule asked him if it was the same
gun and Mellard said yes.
Justice Smith said if the police did not
accept Mellard’s proposal they should have cautioned him and let him know he
was not obliged to say anything. “The silence of the police in the
circumstances would have reasonably led him to believe that if he said yes, it
was the same gun that he spoke about, that he would not get charged.”
The judge said his overriding duty was
to ensure a fair trial. Using Mellard’s admission against him in these
circumstances would not be fair.
Crown Counsel Candia James had argued
that the officers acted in good faith and should not be faulted for the
interpretation Mellard put on what was said.
Knowledge of the gun alone was not
possession, but once Mellard admitted hiding it, he was admitting custody and