Tourist must pay 'costs' for bullet

No conviction recorded for American with one .38-caliber round

An American tourist who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to possession of an unlicensed firearm – one round of .38-caliber ammunition – found in his bag as he was leaving the island was ordered to pay costs of $800. 

In Summary Court, Chief Magistrate Nova Hall said no conviction would be recorded, but she ordered him to pay costs. Costs are different from a fine, which can be imposed only if there is a conviction. 

A summary of facts provided to Chief Magistrate Hall indicated that the man was passing through security screening at Owen Roberts International Airport on Aug. 31 when an image resembling a bullet was seen in his bag, and authorities were called. 

The item proved to be a live round of ammunition, which the man admitted was his. He said he is a firearms license holder in his home state of California and did not realize the bullet had been left in the bottom of his bag. “I’m 68. I’ve never been in trouble with the law,” he told the court. 

Asked if he had traveled to Cayman before, he said he was here 15 or 20 years ago, just for a day on a cruise ship. 

The magistrate noted there is a protocol usually followed in circumstances of visitors bringing in bullets by mistake. 

“I wish I could say that it does not happen with frequency, but it does,” she said. “People come here from jurisdictions where the laws regarding firearms are different.” 

The bullet was forfeited to the Crown and ordered to be destroyed. 

“I wish I could say that it does not happen with frequency, but it does.”

NOVA HALL, Chief Magistrate 

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  1. I find it strange that all the cases where visitors has been found with illegal fire arm, are going out of the Islands, not coming into the Islands. Do custom check people’s luggage coming into the Islands? I wonder if the tourism department of Cayman Islands is making sure that all visitors that are planning to visit the Cayman Islands are aware of the laws. Taking $800 from a visitor at departure from the Islands, this don’t leave a good impression of the Islands. Again why this illegal stuff can only be found going out not coming into the Islands.

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  2. This doesn’t make much sense to me, what would this need to go through the court system. I understand the legality of it but there’s never any convictions in these cases just fines or cost.
    If it’s a bullet, it’s not a fire arm. I can see if it were a bunch of bullets but for single bullet, if he could prove that he was licensed to carry at home and had no weapon with him the bullet should have been confiscated and he should have just been fined at customs and sent on his merry way. No need to waste the courts time or delay his departure any longer leading to costs for accommodations for additional days as well as another plane ticket.

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  3. @ Michael while I agree with your comment, the point that I find very strange is that this same gentleman came into the Island legally, went through the Same customs and that bullet was not found, but going out of the Islands they can find it now. How many times have this same thing happened to visitors ? I think that if customs were doing a good job they would catch these bullets coming in, not going out.

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  4. Good point, Ron. They would have also had to go through screening in the US. I am quite sure that the restricted items that are detected only amount to a fraction of the things that get through.

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  5. I do believe that they should find these things on the way in. And, yes, if it’s a licensed gun holder and it was an honest mistake they should not have to stay and take up court time. Maybe an on-the-spot fine and if that’s refused, then court. At least it would be some kind of deterrent.

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