A woman using her husband’s bag as carry-on luggage pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon to possession of one round of .38 ammunition, discovered at the airport that morning.
Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said the woman attempted to board a flight to Miami around 7:10 a.m., but when she put her hand luggage on the conveyor belt for checking, a security officer observed the shape of a bullet, which was recovered when the bag was searched by hand.
When interviewed, the woman said the bag belonged to her husband, who had a valid firearms license. He had not accompanied her to Cayman. After being contacted, he provided a notarized statement that he was a firearms license holder in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where they live.
Defense attorney John Furniss explained that the woman, 24, had come to the island for a holiday with her parents and three siblings. Her parents had dropped her at the airport at 6 a.m. because she was scheduled to be at work that night. The rest of the family was leaving Cayman the following day.
Mr. Furniss noted that the bag had passed through security on its way here, but the bullet was never detected in the States.
He asked that no conviction be recorded since it could affect her career. He also expressed the hope that the matter could be concluded in time for the defendant to get to the airport in time for a 3:30 p.m. flight.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats thanked the woman for her guilty plea. “Sadly, we have a surprising number of these types of cases. It seems that people in different countries, with different laws from ours, don’t seem to take it seriously.
“If you use a bag to carry firearms, don’t use that bag to travel to another country,” he urged. He said other countries could punish the offense more harshly than Cayman courts do. “I wish we could have this published in the States to warn people.”
What he had before him was an “honest mistake,” he concluded from the facts presented. He cited Flowers Air and Dispatch Services, saying they deserved kudos for being on the front line and being vigilant.
The magistrate said it was always surprising that items like this bullet are not found in the originating state or country. He said the danger was not that the defendant would use the bullet, but that someone could break in and find it.
He ordered the defendant to pay $1,000 in costs, which has become the usual tariff for such cases. He issued an absolute discharge and said no conviction would be recorded.
Mr. Furniss told the court that the woman’s parents had put the money together and he hoped it could get paid before the court treasury office closed at 3 p.m.
On Monday, Mr. Furniss confirmed that the money was accepted in time and that he drove his client and her mother to the airport in time, as the plane had not yet left the ground. However, airline personnel advised that the gate had closed, and the woman was not allowed to board.
She then had to phone her workplace and explain the situation. The whole family left the next day.