A U.S. citizen vacationing in Cayman had her stay extended because live ammunition was found in her luggage as she was leaving the island.
In Summary Court on Monday, the woman pleaded guilty to possession of seven rounds of ammunition and a magazine without a Cayman firearms license. Local law defines firearm to include ammunition.
Informal records kept by Cayman Compass reporters indicate she was the fifth visitor to face such a charge since May.
Crown counsel Candia James said the woman had been scheduled to leave Cayman on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 28. She was at the airport security checkpoint when the items were found in her backpack. Ms. James said the woman holds a firearm license in her home state. The backpack was used to carry her ammunition and personal items when she went shooting, and she forgot to remove the items before her trip.
“It appears to be one of those cases where ammunition was brought here inadvertently and then discovered when the party attempted to leave,” Ms. James said.
She advised that the Crown would have no difficulty if the court did not record a conviction because of the circumstances of this case, but she would ask for costs.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats asked what route the defendant had taken to get here. Why wasn’t the ammunition discovered in other airports, he asked rhetorically.
He was told that the woman had come through JFK airport in New York.
The magistrate wondered whether Cayman airport authorities should send a note to their counterparts in other airports when tourists pass through carrying live rounds. He suggested that such a note could help ensure that the airports of departure improve their screening.
Attorney John Furniss agreed that would be a good idea in these days of heightened concern.
He explained that he had been at the police station when officers brought the woman in, along with her husband. He said he explained to the couple what the law is in Cayman and the possible consequences.
Mr. Furniss told the court that the woman did target shooting as a hobby and she possibly had the licensed firearm for security also. He asked for a discharge so that her job would not be in jeopardy. “They’ve already had the expense of staying here extra days,” he noted. The magistrate thanked the defendant for her guilty plea and acceptance of responsibility.
“Different countries have different rules when it comes to firearms,” he said. “Our country has very strict consequences … I’m not criticizing other countries, but they have more relaxed views regarding firearms and carrying them around. You need to know what you’re carrying around in a foreign country,” he told her.
Given the fact that she has a valid license in her home state, and the potential loss of employment if she were convicted, he said he would not record a conviction.
He ordered her to pay $1,000 or serve 90 days. He said the magazine and rounds would be forfeited and destroyed. The charge did not specify the type or size of the ammunition. Since not recording a conviction is meant to protect a defendant’s good name, the Compass is not identifying the woman.