Dealing with an American tourist on Friday afternoon, Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez accepted the woman’s explanation for having ammunition without a firearms license, but told her that Cayman’s laws are very strict. Possession of ammunition alone, without a firearms license, can land a person in jail, she warned.
“We’re nothing like Texas. We’re the complete opposite of Texas,” she told the defendant, whose travels had included a visit to that U.S. state.
The woman said she had gone to a shooting range in Texas several months earlier and did not realize the bullet was in her bag. She indicated she did not have a firearms license.
After pleading guilty to unlicensed possession of a single round of 9 mm ammunition, she explained she had picked it up as a souvenir of “my first and only time at a range.”
Crown counsel Kerri-Ann Gillies said the offense occurred on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Owen Roberts International Airport. A security officer was on duty at the X-ray imaging machine in the departure area when the woman placed her hand luggage on the conveyor belt.
The officer observed the image of what appeared to be ammunition in the woman’s handbag. The bag was scanned again and then a customs officer was called to examine the bag physically in the woman’s presence. The officer recovered a spent shell and a single round of live ammunition.
The defendant, 37, was obliged to remain in Cayman overnight for court the next day, while her family continued on to the U.S.
She told the magistrate she had photos on her cellphone of the shooting range experience. She was permitted to access the photos, which were then shown to Ms. Gillies. The prosecutor indicated she was satisfied with what the photos showed.
The magistrate noted that the defendant had come through security in the U.S. with the live ammunition and nobody had stopped her, but officers in Cayman find these things when people are going out. She said she did not know what was happening at checkpoints elsewhere.
The danger of unlicensed ammunition is that it can fall into the wrong hands, she pointed out – if, for example, the woman’s handbag had been stolen.
In the circumstances of this case, the defendant’s explanation was accepted, and the magistrate said no conviction would be recorded so that she would leave with a clean record. However, costs would have to be paid of $1,000 before the woman could have her passport back.
The magistrate said she hoped the woman would visit again, but next time, “make a thorough search of your bag.”