Two men were brought to Summary Court on Thursday charged with separate firearms offences.
In the case against Gary Hurlstone, the charge was possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence, because no gun was recovered.
In the case against Andy Barnes, the charge was possession of an unlicensed firearm after police conducted a search of Mr. Barnes’ residence in North Side on 13 June. They recovered a loaded .357 Magnum in a cushion outside the premises, but in the porch area.
Mr. Hurlstone elected trial in Summary Court and pleaded not guilty to having the imitation firearm with intent to wound or inflict grievous bodily harm to a named individual on 24 June.
Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban said the complainant reported to police that he was riding his bicycle in George Town when Mr. Hurlstone stopped him and asked him about a gun. He said Mr. Hurlstone pulled a gun from his waist and said he was not playing. He then allegedly slashed at the complainant with a knife. The complainant got on his bike and rode to the George Town Police Station.
When Mr. Hurlstone was interviewed by police he told them, “I had no gun. I never assaulted anyone. I had no knife.”
Defence Attorney John Furniss said the complainant is himself before the court for a firearms charge. He said there were other people in the vicinity, but no one saw a gun.
Mr. Furniss noted that one witness said he heard Mr. Hurlstone tell the complainant he must hand in a gun.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats pointed to the defendant’s record, which included failure to surrender to custody. He declined to grant bail, but set the early trial date.
Attorney Nicholas Dixey appeared for Mr. Barnes, whose 4-year-old son, Jeremiah, was fatally shot in February 2010.
Mr. Dixey said if everything else were equal, he would apply for bail, but during an interview it was put to Mr. Barnes that he was a target and in danger. “Since being informed of that intelligence, we have asked for protection,” Mr. Dixey said. However, he continued, no arrangement, no accommodations had been made.
“It’s an exceptional case,” the magistrate agreed. “It’s actually a frightening case.”
Mr. Dixey said Mr. Barnes’ house had been searched on the basis of intelligence received. Maybe the source of the intelligence was the source of the threats against Mr. Barnes, he said. The attorney suggested investigations were not proceeding as rapidly as they should.
“My guess is the police are too busy with the crime that is going on right now,” the magistrate replied. “Everyone in the criminal justice system is stretched.” He said police were overwhelmed attending court as witnesses and they were overwhelmed with investigations.
“It won’t do for his life to be in danger if he leaves custody,” Mr. Dixey said. “He shouldn’t even be on the Island.” Concerns were also expressed for Mr. Barnes’ family.
The attorney said his client had to make the difficult decision of whether his case should be tried in Grand Court or Summary Court.
Ms Lobban advised a firearms expert would be on Island over the weekend and would test the firearm. She said if the file could be ready quickly, the matter could come back for review.
Mr. Dixey asked for remand to Eagle House, the place of custody for young offenders, which is separated from Northward Prison.
The magistrate set the matter for mention again on 12 July.
“Everyone in the criminal justice system is stretched.” Magistrate Valdis Foldats