A young man who came to Cayman to attend the KAABOO festival this past weekend ended up staying longer than he intended because he was obliged to attend Summary Court.
Late Tuesday, he appeared before Magistrate Valdis Foldats charged with possession of unlicensed firearms – two bullets – and pleaded guilty.
Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said the bullets were found when the man was at Owen Roberts Airport on Sunday, Feb. 17, preparing to depart on a U.S.-bound flight. When his backpack was put through the X-ray machine, the items were seen and retrieved by authorities.
The man, 21, said he had gone hiking with a friend a few weeks before his trip to Cayman. He had found the ammunition, decided to keep it, and put it in the backpack.
Defense attorney Gregory Burke explained that the defendant had intended to display the bullets in his room, but subsequently forgot about them.
His parents have kept a holiday apartment in Cayman for the past 15 years and he has visited frequently, almost considering Cayman as his second home.
He had arrived on island some days before the festival and the backpack had remained in the apartment the whole time, Mr. Burke said.
It was never the defendant’s intention to disrespect the laws of these islands, the attorney added.
The situation now was that the young man intended to join the U.S. Army, so Mr. Burke asked that no conviction be recorded against him. He suggested that his client had learned a valuable lesson from his experience over the weekend and his time in custody.
The magistrate agreed that being detained, questioned and held in custody would have been “a wake-up call” as to the seriousness of the offense.
He accepted that the defendant did genuinely forget about the bullets, and this showed the difference in attitudes and laws when comparing Cayman with the U.S. and other countries.
The magistrate took into account the young man’s aspirations and granted an absolute discharge, meaning no conviction would be recorded. There was still a “sting,” he said, because he was ordering the defendant to pay costs of prosecution in the sum of $1,000 or serve 90 days.
The Cayman Compass does not typically name defendants for whom no conviction is recorded.