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.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I still don’t understand why Cayman Islands Government don’t see that something needs to be done about this finding a bullet on the way out of the Islands and charging and inconvenience people / tourist for one petty $1,000. Do we think that this family would ever return to Cayman ?

    Like the Judge said wish we could publish this in the States , what about printing it on all Custom and Immigration forms that everyone has to fill out to enter the Island and better screening on arrival . Then maybe the bullet would be left on the plane and not found on the way out of Island .

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  2. any brain dead dipstick who doesn’t ensure they have nothing in the luggage or on their person that would attract the attention of customs or the police deserves everything they get and as to the question of this family returning – do we really want them to?

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  3. I’m happy to learn that our security are so good at spotting tiny things like single bullets at the time people are LEAVING the country.

    I will confess that a few years ago I accidentally flew from Tampa to Miami with a pepper spray in my hand baggage. Not detected.

    And on several occasions I accidentally left a Swiss Army knife in my hand baggage and had to go back out to mail it to myself or retrieve my checked baggage and put it in there.

    (Of course even if I HAD got on the plane with my tiny 2 inch long knife there was zero chance of me hijacking the plane. But that’s another story.)

    Accidents do happen. People DO forget to empty their hand luggage before packing. And this is obviously what’s happening here.

    Couldn’t we just in future remove the offending bullet and send the hapless tourist on their way?

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  4. John,

    Are you really condemning the family from coming back to vacation in Cayman for one bullet that was found in one of their luggage , that you don’t know how it got there . Not going to make you a Tourism Ambassador to the Islands .

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  5. I think that the message is being missed here…and that is the zero tolerance that the Cayman Islands has for ANY type of unlicensed firearms or ammunition on its soil, regardless of its owner, origin or how it got there.

    A bit draconian for visitors who have made a mistake ? Maybe so.

    Any different from rules against travelling in the USA with ammunition in your carry-on luggage ?

    No…the Caymanian authorities and system and search personnell are just better at finding them.

    Should visitors be cut some slack more than they are being cut now ?

    Why ? It would signify a huge double standard and negate the message that is already being sent…one of zero tolerance.

    Consider the fact that that same bullet can easily earn a local resident 10 years in prison.

    A 1000.00 fine and being allowed to go your way without a conviction on your record and being able to return is, imo, a lenient enough penalty for dangerous carelessness that might easily be more severely punished when discovered in the USA.

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