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Man caught with bullet at AIA escapes jail time

Man caught with bullet at AIA escapes jail time


Tears fell as the second man to be found at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) with illegal ammunition in a matter of weeks, just managed to dodge jail time.

The hearing for Gerald Walters, charged with being in possession of one round of .38mm ammunition at AIA last Monday, was in actuality a short one, but appeared to send the Canouan worker on a roller coaster of emotion.

Walters, who entered a guilty plea this week, looked around nervously as the events of that day were recounted.

All of the defendant’s problems started last Monday, at around 10:10 p.m. when he was about to board a plane to Canouan and was clearing security at the domestic terminal of the airport. He had apparently placed his belongings in the tray, which on passing through the scanners revealed an image which appeared to be a bullet. PC88 Henry was informed and Walters was asked to pass through the metal detector. Nothing was found on his person, but the defendant’s wallet was searched, and one bullet was found in the small pocket on the right side of the wallet. From there, instead of travelling to Canouan, Walters travelled to the police station and was kept there until he was first charged on Tuesday morning.

Lawyer Ronald Marks rose to plead with the Chief Magistrate, asking her not to give the young man time behind bars. He introduced Walters as the father of a little girl who is six months old and a man with a clean record.

He cooperated with the police at the first opportunity, the lawyer said, and explained to them that he had been coming from work in Canouan when he picked up the bullet, put it in his wallet and forgot it there. Keeping the bullet for three weeks due to his ‘forgetfulness’, the defendant brought the bullet to the mainland.

“He said that it was his intention to hand the bullet over to the authorities, but he just forgot,” Marks stated.

Describing him as a community man and a family man with ‘excellent, excellent character’, the lawyer asked that the Chief Magistrate be lenient and not impose a custodial sentence.

Not prepared to accept the submissions by Marks, prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche said that his problem with these occurrences is, “You meet a bullet – what you picking it up for?”

He further stated that if you pick up a bullet, you either throw it in the sea or you hand it in to the authorities, and that a ‘short, sharp shock’ may help him to learn to leave the bullet there.

Marks once again rose to object to the ‘short, sharp shock’, saying that a jail term was not appropriate because the offence was not one of “that level of culpability.”

Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias agreed with him and stated that she did not think a custodial sentence was appropriate, being guided by similar cases. Walters had also pleaded guilty as early as possible, she stated.

Even though Browne-Matthias was heading down this favourable road, the defendant’s constant swallowing had already turned into tears falling from his eyes, which had become very red.

The Chief Magistrate told him to wipe his tears and said that that was enough of a “short, sharp shock for him.”

She imposed a fine of $700, $200 to be paid forthwith and $500 the day after.

The now subdued man sat at the end of the prisoner’s bay, his body turned slightly away from the others and his hands clasped in front of him until he could paid the fine.