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Chief Magistrate reserves decision in Lowmans gun case

Chief Magistrate reserves decision in Lowmans gun case

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Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias has decided to reserve her judgement in a case in which a Lowmans Leeward couple is charged for having a cache of weapons in their possession.

Her decision came yesterday at the Serious Offences Court, as both the defence and prosecution made their final arguments in the case.

Randy Shallow and Friekesha Douglas are jointly charged that on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, during a raid at their home in Lowmans Leeward, police found a submachine 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 9mm ammunition.

Yesterday, senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche told the court that the prosecution had brought the charges against the couple and it is its duty to prove them beyond all reasonable doubt, which it has done.

The senior prosecutor said that on the date in question, the police, armed with a search warrant, mounted a search on the couple’s home and, based on their evidence, investigating officer PC 209 Philbert Chambers found the weapons in the presence of the defendants, and WPC Miller and Corporal King.

The couple was arrested and brought to CID, where the items were displayed, examined and found to be functional.

The senior prosecutor noted that possession has a physical and mental element and is defined as having knowledge, control or custody.

He told the court that although the defendants did not have the gun on their person, they are subject to control and knowledge, because they lived together in the house for four years.

Corporal King said in his evidence that Shallow became violent when the items were found, so much so that he had to be manhandled and during his submissions Delpesche pointed out that it constitutes reasonable force, which is allowed by law.

He said the defence is relying on a beating that the defendants allegedly received, but Shallow does not have a medical report, although he showed his injuries during the electronic interview and claimed that he was beaten for 20 minutes.

“How do you believe that; how do you accept that?” Delpesche questioned.

He further stated that Douglas claimed to have suffered a miscarriage because of the alleged beatings, but, like Shallow, does not have a medical report.

“You lost your baby from a beating… you go to a doctor and ain’t tell he? … That is something that is believable? And you don’t have a medical certificate to substantiate that?”

Delpesche added that the press conference held by the Commissioner of Police (COP), Renold Hadaway, has no implications on the trial and the commissioner did not break any laws.

Delpesche also pointed out that although Corporal King said he found ammunition, in his evidence, Chambers was the one who found all the items.

“All those straws, when put together, your honour, is a strong man rope,” the senior prosecutor commented.

According to him, every bit of evidence points to the defendants’ guilt and although the defence brought Keith Howard, a gun dealer of 10 plus years, he is not an expert, so he cannot say whether or not the gun is operational.

However, defence lawyer Grant Connell, who represents the couple, said that prosecution had not proved their case beyond all reasonable doubt.

He said the case is not about how much abuse the police laid on civilians, but is about the break in the chain of custody.

Connell reminded the court that Chambers, in his evidence, said that he moved all the exhibits from a ledge, but the defence lawyer pointed out that it was impossible for them to fit on the two-inch ledge.

He said King, in his evidence, said that he found the ammunition five minutes after Chambers found the guns and handed them over to Chambers. King said the SMG was hanging on an ‘S’ bend between the burglar bars; however, Connell said no such bend exists on the ledge.

Connell said all three officers gave different versions of where the guns came from and had the opportunity to record their findings, but failed to do so at the scene.

The court heard that Daniel Johnson, the landlord, has a storeroom, which he and his son have access to, that ran outside the defendants’ bedroom and Connell suggested that the couple does not control the area where the ledge is.

“Who put them where the prosecution says they were?” he questioned.

Connell said that introduces probability, adding that two guns were checked in to the exhibit room at the station on January 20, and records show that they haven’t been logged out since.

He said he agreed with the prosecution that the press conference is nothing illegal, but the COP gave evidence about what was handed over to him, when and where.

He said that although he could not provide the recordings from the press conference, they highlight what was on the COP’s desk on January 18.

Connell also pointed out that PC Chambers told the court that an exhibit tag was created after January 19, but each tag is dated 1:30 p.m., January 18.

“How was it that tags were dated before they were created?”

Connell suggested that the documents before the court are not a true reflection of what the COP signed and added that Hadaway, in his evidence, said he never initialled the ski masks, yet his initials are on them.

Additionally, he told the court that Deputy Commissioner Colin John told him that the officers he (Connell) requested to testify are not gazetted firearms experts, although an expert was crucial to the defence’s case.

Connell pointed out a number of irregularities as it related to the firearms and maintained that the case is an insult to common sense.

He said the prosecution’s case is riddled with doubt and the chain of custody is missing a few links.

“The police must do their jobs differently,” he asserted.

The defence lawyer described the prosecution’s case as Delpesche patching unacceptable work by the police, adding that the standard of policing is unacceptable and urged the Chief Magistrate to set an example.

He further asked the court to dismiss the matter.

All parties would return to court on May 24, when the court will decide Douglas and Shallow’s fate. (AS)

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