Tourist spent three nights in lock-up

Man with bullet in pouch has firearms licence at home

A man who had spent a week’s vacation in Cayman with wife and family ended up not returning home with them after he was stopped at the airport on Saturday, 11 August. Instead, Lakem Soohoo spent three nights in the George Town Police Station lock-up before being brought to Summary Court on Tuesday. 

Crown Counsel Candia James told Chief Magistrate Nova Hall that a travel pouch carried by Soohoo was put through the scanner at the airport around 1.30pm when he was going to board a flight to New Jersey. One round of .38-calibre ammunition was seen.  

When interviewed, Soohoo acknowledged that the bullet was his, but said he had not been aware of its presence in the pouch. 

The magistrate put the charge to him – possession of an unlicensed firearm, namely one round of ammunition – and he pleaded guilty. 

Defence attorney Lucy Organ told the court that Soohoo has a valid firearms licence in the United States. She handed up a copy of the licence, which his wife had faxed to Cayman after her arrival home. 

Ms Organ said Soohoo used the pouch to travel and keep his money with him. When the officer at the airport showed him the bullet, his memory was jolted. He remembered that a friend had given the bullet to him several years ago to compare with other ammunition. He had put the bullet in the pouch, which has a front zipper, and then he forgot it was there. He gave this account to the officer at the airport. 

If he had realised the bullet was in the pouch, he would have taken it out before travelling, Ms Organ said.  

Soohoo had been granted bail by police, but he could not reach the required cash bond of $1,000. He had $450 with him in cash and a credit card, so he ended up spending three nights in custody until the matter came to court, the attorney reported.  

Ms Organ said Soohoo, 53, had never been in trouble with the law. She asked for no conviction to be recorded but with costs imposed. If the court did not agree, she asked that the defendant be fined in an amount he could pay that day so that he could travel back to the US and be reunited with his family. 

The magistrate said this offence in previous cases had been dealt with by way of a fine. She directed that a fine of $200 be paid from his money in police custody, with the balance returned to him. 

Owen Roberts Intl Airport Cayman Islands

The entrance to the Owen Roberts International Airport.
File

5 COMMENTS

  1. He will never come back here.

    So there are those high paying tourist dollars lost.

    As well, I’m sure he is going to relive his tale, to everyone around him. So another sure fire way, for less tourist dollars spent here.

    Over one bullet? With no firearm?

    For some sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). Wrapped in a copper casing and some lead at the end. This tourist, spent 3 nights in jail.

    ….A bullet by itself is about as dangerous as a toe nail.

  2. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time…in different countries.

    I once forgot a folding knife I’d stored in a travel bag’s pouch and it was discovered by an airline bag check upon leaving Cayman for the USA; luckily for me, it was found BEFORE I left Cayman and was kept for me until my return to the island.

    What do you think would have happened to me if this knife had been found in my luggege upon arrival in the USA ?

    Or this bullet had been found in this traveler’s pouch upon entry to the USA ?

    He would have been thoroughly investigated under the Terrorism Act laws…and then charged with transporting an explosive device (a bullet) on an airline carrier.

    The only difference is that he might have posted the bond immediately, gone to court and be fined…and not have to spend any time in jail.

    People need to be extra careful to check their cases and bags thoroughly before packing to go on vacation so these things do not happen.

    Nothing happnened to this man in Cayman that would not have happened in the USA or anywhere else, under similar circumstances.

    Its the times that we’re living in now, unfortunately.

  3. Definitely some discretion could have been exercised in this case.

    Think of it, a lone bullet – no gun – no other ammunition – no other banned weapon found on the person. Also, a reasonable and believable explanation. Yet this tourist spent THREE nights in the George Town Police Station lock-up before being brought to Summary Court on Tuesday? Away from his wife and family. This really defies reason, common sense and logic!

    Everyone should be doubly careful when traveling these days. But lets not forget we ALL have the human element in us and we All are subject to errors and omissions. Welcome to the human race.

  4. Whilst I am truly sympathetic to his plight whilst trying to leave our island with his family, what I really can’t understand is how this gentleman was able to get through all the security in place in the USA before coming to Grand Cayman.
    He was able to fly here FROM the States with the bullet in his travel wallet…which would have gone through their umpteen security measures undetected. How can this be possible?

    We all know what we have to go through when leaving the United States! Is the Compass able to follow up the question I have raised in the interests of those of us who travel frequently? Because I am truly confused as to how he was allowed to leave the USA in the first place.

  5. What type of discretion would you suggest or expect ?

    Nowadays, you pay for such mistakes, even though mistakes they are.

    Would you suggest that the airport security that found this bullet have just taken it off him and send him on his merry way, accepting his story that he was an honest guy who had just made a mistake ?

    Maybe you don’t realise that holding him was meant to give Cayman’s and the USA’s law-enforcement agencies time to check his background and story to see that he was not on any wanted persons list for more serious crimes.

    Since 9/11, being found in any airport or on any airline with anything like or associated with or could be used as a weapon is an international crime.

    What do you think would have happened to the Cayman Islands had they just let him go and tell his story back in the USA that he’d been found with a bullet and simply let go; do you have any idea of the field day the international press would have had with Cayman on that one ?

    I guarantee you, this man is cursing himself more for making this mistake than the Cayman authorities for the way in which it was dealt with.

    He might even be saying that Cayman is a safer place to visit because of this experience.

    Mistake or not, you cannot expect to be found with a bullet in your possession at an international airport and not face some consequences.

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