No bail for gun suspect

A man whose four-year-old son was slain in a shooting earlier this year was denied bail on a firearms charge during a Grand Court hearing Friday. 

Justice Charles Quin refused a bail application filed on behalf of Andy Barnes, 31, agreeing with the decision of Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale the previous day. 

Defence Attorney John Furniss said
late Thursday he would try to arrange the Grand Court hearing Friday to
argue for bail on behalf of Barnes, who is charged with having an
unlicensed firearm in Bodden Town on Monday night with intent to commit an assault.

No gun has been recovered.

Barnes wept in Summary Court
Thursday afternoon as he pleaded for bail, saying he would never be so stupid
as to carry a gun in a public place.

Chief Magistrate Ramsay-Hale
said she did not disbelieve him, but noted the question at a bail hearing is the
strength of the Crown’s case. She felt she had no choice but to deny bail.
However, she asked if Mr. Furniss could get the matter before a Grand Court
judge.

There is no automatic right to bail
on a firearm charge and Barnes was already charged for an alleged firearm
earlier this year, she noted.

At that time, he was granted bail with
an electronic surveillance tag because of concern for his safety, the
magistrate said. She pointed out he was alleged to have been the victim of an
attack earlier this year when his son Jeremiah, four, was fatally shot in
February and was in fact the victim of an attack when he was shot in his leg
outside a West Bay bar in June.

The men accused of those offences are
in custody at Northward Prison awaiting their trials. Barnes is a witness
against them and Cayman has no other prison, the magistrate said.

Senior Crown Counsel John Masters
advised that the latest incident occurred in the vicinity of Water Boyz Liquor
Store around 9.30pm and members of the public were present. He said a witness
reported seeing Barnes apparently in an argument with his common-law wife and
Barnes moving a gun from side to side saying “Shut up or I will kill you.”

Mr. Masters did not name the witness,
but showed a statement to the magistrate. She said the witness was credible.
She asked about CCTV footage.

Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson said
he had viewed the tape and saw Barnes and the woman. Because of lack of
lighting and the glare from passing vehicles, he could not see anything in
Barnes’ hands.

Mr. Furniss argued that a witness
would have had the same interference as the CCTV camera. He said there was no
dispute the couple did have an argument. “Then it was over and they went back
to their new digs,” he told the court.

Mr. Furniss emphasised that neither
Barnes nor his wife knew the name of the witness. The wife made a
statement to police about the argument: she said there was no firearm. Police
had searched their residence and vehicle and nothing was found, he said.

The attorney pointed out there was to
have been a long-form preliminary inquiry into the earlier firearm charge, but
the court did not have time to hear it. If it had gone ahead, he suggested,
that would have been the end and Barnes would not now be someone on bail for a
similar offence.

Mr. Furniss said that the prison could not
guarantee Barnes’ safety.

“The prison has to,” the magistrate replied.

Barnes thanked the magistrate for
giving him bail on the previous charge and told her he never abused it and
never had a firearm. He said there were people who wanted to see him off the
road; three men had told police he had “run them down with a gun” when in fact
he was in lock-up at the time.

He asked to be able to spend
Christmas with his family. He said he had bought paint to paint his boy’s
grave. His wife also asked that he be able to come home.

The magistrate set the matter for
mention again in Summary Court on 4 January.

Mr. Furniss said he would
speak with the Grand Court listing officer and Mr. Masters said he would speak
with the Solicitor General.

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