A man who has been visiting the Cayman Islands since 1983 appeared in Summary Court on Thursday charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm – a 9mm bullet.
Clyde Vernon Hartline Jr. of Texas pleaded guilty, but told Magistrate Philippa McFarlane he had no concept of how the bullet got in the backpack where it was found. He said he traveled a lot with his backpack, was the holder of a concealed weapons license, and owned several 9mm pistols.
He said he had medical issues recently and had not been to a firing range for over a year.
The magistrate asked if he had been to Cayman before.
“I’ve been coming here since 1983,” the defendant replied, adding that he was very aware of Cayman’s stance against firearms.
He explained that this trip was a kind of celebration for his recovery plus an early Mother’s Day for his wife.
Crown counsel Claire Wetton said the bullet was discovered when Hartline went through the security check at Owen Roberts International Airport on Wednesday, May 10, intending to take a flight to Miami.
The defendant added, “They ran the bag through the screen three times.” He said the bullet had been difficult to find, “but your guys found it.”
He said he understood why he had been charged, he appreciated the way he had been dealt with and he apologized to everyone.
The magistrate accepted that the offense was an oversight on his part and discharged him absolutely, meaning no conviction would be recorded. The penalty was not a fine, but a payment of $1,000 toward the cost of prosecution. A customs officer indicated that this could be paid from the bail Hartline had posted the previous day.
“I hope you continue to visit the Cayman Islands,” the magistrate told him, but urged that he double check his backpack before traveling again.