A visitor pleaded guilty in Summary Court on Monday to possession of an unlicensed firearm – a single .45 round – found in his jacket pocket as he was leaving the island on May 1.
After hearing facts and mitigation, Magistrate Valdis Foldats ordered the man to pay $1,000 as the costs of prosecuting the charge. He accepted defense attorney Prathna Bodden’s submission that no conviction be recorded.
In summarizing facts leading to the charge, Crown counsel Greg Walcolm said the visitor was departing the island from Owen Roberts International Airport when, during the X-ray process at the security screening area, an object was observed that appeared to be a bullet. A search of the man’s jacket revealed the single round of live ammunition.
When interviewed, the man explained that he had gone to a firing range prior to his trip to Cayman; he thought he had removed all ammunition from his pockets.
Mr. Walcolm said the man held a lifetime firearm permit in his home jurisdiction.
Ms. Bodden said the defendant had been required to remain in Grand Cayman over the weekend, which was a substantial financial burden, while his wife and friends went on to Cuba. On his way to Cayman, he had been through two airports in the U.S. The bullet had been lodged in the lining of the jacket pocket and his pre-trip search obviously had not been thorough enough. The defendant apologized.
Cayman’s laws on firearms are quite different from those in the U.S, the magistrate indicated: “We do not want people to have unlicensed firearms.” He pointed to mandatory minimum sentences of seven and 10 years. “That shows you how seriously our legislature takes the offense.”
Sadly, he noted, the courts see many cases like this, involving even a single round. He accepted that the man had brought the bullet unintentionally. “Our system is obviously top-notch,” he said, commending officials for their continued vigilance.
The defendant’s guilty plea gave the court more options, so the magistrate said he was able to enter an absolute discharge, with no conviction recorded. He ordered that the bullet be forfeited and destroyed.
Since not recording a conviction is meant to protect a defendant’s good name, the Cayman Compass is not identifying the man.
“Our system is obviously top-notch,” the magistrate said, commending officials for their continued vigilance.