From the Courts
March 10, 2017
Prosecutors seek amendment on serial number of seized weapon

Prosecutors returned to court this week, seeking an amendment to the serial number of one of the weapons two Lowmans Hill residents have been charged with being in illegal possession of.

On January 20, 2017, Randy Shallow and Friekesha Douglas were charged with possession of a sub-machine gun (SMG), a Glock 40 pistol, a .38 revolver, an AK47 magazine with one round of AK47 ammunition, 14 rounds of Glock 40 ammunition and 45 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, contrary to the Firearms Act.

However, on Monday, prosecutors applied to the court to change from 9602178 to 529343, the serial number of the sub-machine gun, as stated in the charge.

This matter came to national attention on January 18, when the Commissioner of Police (COP) called a press conference to display the weapons and ammunition seized during a raid of the Lowman’s Hill residence of Shallow and Douglas.

Following the press conference, senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche and Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias objected to the decision of the COP to display the weapons even before the persons who were alleged to have had them were charged.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves has, however, come out in support of the COP, saying he did nothing wrong.

Delpesche had described as “unethical and unfortunate”, the showing to the media of a sub-machine gun (SMG), a Glock 40 pistol, a .38 revolver, an AK47 magazine with one round of AK47 ammunition, 14 rounds of Glock 40 ammunition and 45 rounds of 9 mm ammunition that were found on the raid.

Delpesche had commented that in his opinion, putting the exhibits on display should not have happened before the matter is ventilated in court. Browne-Matthias also agreed with Delpesche and described the press briefing as “most unfortunate”. She said that the press conference was a poor reflection of those who should know better and that the discovery of the weapons and bullets cannot be tried in public since there is a court of law and a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. She was notably upset about the pre-trial publicity, stressing that it is a very sensitive and serious matter.

Two days after the press briefing, Shallow and Douglas were brought before the Serious Offences Court and charged with possessing the firearms and ammunition. They were granted bail in the sum of EC$40,000, but no one has so far come forward to sign their bail bond.

Their lawyer Grant Connell also expressed his disapproval of the display of the weapons before the trial when he appeared in court.

But last Monday, March 6, speaking during the opening ceremony of a five-day joint border security workshop at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room, Gonsalves said that he has since called the COP and assured him that in his opinion, he did nothing wrong.

“I notice a defence lawyer said that he shouldn’t do that and a prosecutor said so. I called the Commissioner of Police and told him, when you get them, show them to the public, let the public see what criminals bringing in,” said the PM.

“I don’t see if you charge somebody for an assault weapon and you publish the weapon that is prejudicial. How can that be in heaven’s name…prejudicial?” queried Gonsalves, citing the Green’s Bay case from Jamaica that was heard by the Privy Council.

Added the PM, “I told him (the COP) publicize them, and he was happy that I called, because he was worried that he did something wrong. You have to look for the guns,” stressed Gonsalves.