Two bullets kept as souvenirs cost a tourist $1,000 when she appeared in Summary Court on Monday, charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Under the Firearms Law, ammunition is included in the definition of a firearm.
The woman pleaded guilty to having the two bullets among her personal possessions on Sunday afternoon at Owen Roberts International Airport.
Crown counsel Greg Walcolm told Magistrate Grace Donalds that the 23-year-old woman was traveling through customs en route to boarding a flight out of the jurisdiction. While her handbag was being scanned, security personnel noticed what appeared to be a bullet. A further check revealed a .45 round, which was shown to the woman.
She was taken to a private area and all of her luggage was searched. Nothing was recovered, but in the same handbag that had been scanned, the second bullet was found.
The woman was arrested and interviewed. She indicated that she had checked her bag before leaving the United States. She had also gone through Customs and Immigration in the U.S. and the bullets were not discovered, so she was of the view that the bag did not contain any ammunition, Mr. Walcolm related.
A resident of South Carolina, she did not have a firearm license, did not own a firearm and did not belong to a gun club. During the summer, however, she had gone shooting with friends, some of whom were American and some from other countries. She decided to keep a bullet as a souvenir of the occasion. A French person also kept a bullet, but before he departed for Paris, he learned that he could not travel with it, so he gave it to her.
She kept the two rounds in the bag that she also used as a beach bag. When she checked and could not find them, she thought they had been lost or misplaced.
“She was of the view they were no longer there,” Mr. Walcolm said.
The woman was bailed with a cash surety of US$1,700, he advised.
Defense attorney Laura Larner asked the court to follow recent precedents in similar cases by recording no conviction but ordering payment of costs.
Ms. Larner described the defendant as an Italian national who completed her studies in South Carolina and now worked there. She was a productive and responsible citizen with no convictions in any jurisdiction. She had come to Cayman with her boyfriend and his family for a vacation.
“In South Carolina, it is not illegal to carry, possess or buy ammunition,” Ms. Larner explained. “Having gone through security, having been X-rayed, not setting off any alarms, she did not think she was in possession of any illegal articles.”
The attorney cited four cases, in which defendants had to pay costs that varied between US$1,000, US$1,500 and CI$1,000.
The magistrate applied a section of the Penal Code that allows for no conviction being recorded. She ordered the woman to pay prosecution costs of CI$1,000 or serve two months in lieu.