From the Courts
December 29, 2017
Trial into case of ammunition found in suitcase at AIA hits snag

Two witnesses into the trial of a man allegedly found with illegal ammunition in his suitcase at the Argyle International Airport(AIA), and the proceedings have already hit a speed bump.

Robert Steele, a Vincentian living in the United States, was first allegedly found with one round of 9mm ammunition in his suitcase at the airport, and charged with the offence of possession of ammunition without a licence, this Wednesday, December 27. Steele pleaded not guilty and the trial was set to take place yesterday.

However, the trial was adjourned yesterday, after the supervisor for aviation security at the airport, Richard Burke, took the stand, and the direction his evidence took.

Burke told the court that when he was on duty, one of the employees at the airport showed him an image on the X-ray machine, which appeared to show a bullet. The police were called in and Steele was met in the departure lounge of the airport and told that he was wanted in the check room for a further examination of his luggage.

One of the security personnel working at the airport was then reported to have conducted a search of the luggage in Steele’s presence, but did not find anything that ressembled the suspicious image.

After Steele was allowed to repack his bag it was again carried into the X-ray room and scanned. This time the image showed the suspicious object being around the area where Steele had packed cologne. Another hand search allegedly revealed one 9mm bullet in the pocket of a white pair of jeans underneath the cologne. When the defendant was shown the bullet, the supervisor originally said that Steele did not say anything.

Lawyer for the defence Richard Williams asked the supervisor a number of questions in cross-examination after his statement.

In his questioning it was revealed that when the suitcase was brought into the scanning room for the second time, five people were present, but this did not include the defendant. The supervisor said this is because airport protocol prohibits passengers from being allowed in the scanning room.

When asked if they showed the defendant the security footage of them finding the bullet, the supervisor replied, “No sir, he didn’t ask for it.” Then he went on to state that it was against protocol.

It also came to light that the defendant did make a statement when shown the bullet, saying he did not know how it got there and “that’s impossible.” The supervisor also admitted that Steele had consistently denied any knowledge of the bullet.

When asked if the prosecution had any cross-examination for the supervisor, prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche stated that he had not had a chance to go through the case file before the trial and based on evidence given wanted a short adjournment to consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

This was granted and the trial is set to continue today at the Serious Offences Court.(KR)