Police Commissioner faces tough questioning in gun case
Commissioner of Police Renold Hadaway faced tough questioning in court last week when he was made to explain why the wrong serial number was initially given for a submachine gun seized during a raid earlier this year.
The matter first came to national attention on January 18, when the police called a press conference to display weapons and ammunition seized during a raid of the home of Lowmans Hill couple Randy Shallow and Friekesha Douglas.
The police confiscated a submachine gun (SMG), a Glock 40 pistol and 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.
Later that week, Douglas and Shallow, both represented by Connell, were charged with having the weapons in their possession, contrary to the Firearms Act.
Connell had expressed his disapproval of the display of the weapons before the trial and when Hadaway took the stand at the Serious Offences Court on March 20, in his capacity as a ballistic expert with 25 years of experience, Connell used this opportunity to suggest to the COP that the firearm brought to the court was not the same one shown at the press conference.
Hadaway denied this; instead, he said that on Wednesday, January 18, he received information that several firearms and ammunition were seized in a raid conducted by police and he wanted to notify the public of the substantial findings made by the police.
Hadaway also denied Connellâs suggestion that Sergeant Jules Morgan handed over the firearms to him instead of the arresting officer PC Philbert Chambers.
This would have shown a breach in the chain of custody.
The Commissioner, however, told the court that PC Chambers physically handed over the firearms in the presence of Inspector Hawkins Nanton, Sgr Morgan and other officers.
Connell suggested to the COP that his actions were unethical, but Hadaway, who also has legal training, disagreed.
Hadaway told the court that the evidence tags were removed from the weapons just before the press conference to protect the integrity of the accused persons and were replaced after the press conference when he also placed his initials on the weapons and the magazines and signed the exhibit tabs.
On Monday, March 6, before the trial began, prosecutors applied to the court to change the serial number for the SMG from 960297 to S29343.
During Hadawayâs testimony, he pointed out that his experience makes him aware of the difference between a model number and a serial number, but on the day of the press conference he did not see either number.
He, however, stated that he got the serial number from ballistic expert Sergeant 441 Julian Cain, a well-decorated ballistics expert and so he did not verify the number himself.
According to Hadaway, he signed the gun after the press conference and verified the serial number some time later.
Before the Commissioner was questioned by Connell, Cain, a weapons expert in SVG for the last 14 years, took the witness stand as the officer who examined the firearms and found them to be operational.
Cain told the court that he logs exhibits when they are brought to him for examination, but could not recall if he logged those that Chambers brought on January 18.
Connell interrupted Cain to point out that the serial number on the exhibit tag belonging to the SMG is at variance with the evidence presented, although the court had already made the amendment to the charge.
Cain in turn told the court that he realized that he had mistaken the model number for the serial number sometime after January 19 when he prepared a statement and so the amendment was made in court.
Cain told the court that the serial numbers on the other weapons were not clearly visible and all serial numbers are not located in the same place on different weapons and so his error was simply an oversight.
He said he did not hand over the gun to any of his superiors and that he recorded the serial number when he first examined the firearm.
Cain had initially given a written statement as part of his evidence and when questioned by Connell, he told the court that he did not see the need to write a second statement after he realized his mistake.
The case continues on March 30, where five more witnesses are expected to take the stand. (AS)