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Couple walks as magistrate dismisses ammunition case

Couple walks as magistrate dismisses ammunition case

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An oversight in the process of bringing evidence before the court has caused a case of illegal possession of ammunition to go down the drain.

Anthony Jordan and Sulome Lewis’s trial began on Tuesday, with them entering a not guilty plea to a charge of having in their possession 25 rounds of shotgun ammunition without a licence.

However, what may have been a long trial for the labourers who reside at Georgetown, possibly resulting, if they were found guilty, in a jail sentence, ended up not moving past the second witness.

The first witness, a ballistics expert, confirmed that he had examined 25 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition, handed to him on November 23, 2016, and found these bullets to be live, meaning, not blanks.

The next, and last witness, was a young police officer, who told the story of how he arrested the two, in a precise and calm manner.

He recalled that at around 5:50 a.m. on the given date, he and a handful of other police officers headed to the home of the defendants at Georgetown, armed with a search warrant for ammunition. After knocking on the door, the officers waited, he said, approximately seven minutes before the door was opened by Jordan.

Thus, they began their search of the house, including the bathroom, where the officer said he lifted up the cover of the toilet tank and found a white plastic bag inside. When questioned about the contents of the bag, Jordan apparently told the policeman, “Officer, is ammunition.” Further, he alleged, inside the white plastic bag, was a green and yellow cardboard box, marked ‘Remington’, which contained shotgun ammunition. However, Jordan refused to give any further comment as to whether he had obtained a licence for such. Suspicion arose, and he was arrested.

Jordan was said to be in the company of Lewis, who had been in the living room while the search had progressed. The party proceeded to this room, to question her. She said she was living there with Jordan, her boyfriend. Showing the bag of bullets to Lewis, she apparently made no reply when asked if she had an ammunition licence, but did make it clear, when the offence was pointed out to her, “Me nah know nothing about dat.”

Both parties were taken back to the Georgetown Police Station and the bullets were apparently counted as 25, and labelled there. The investigations then began, and finding that there was no licence, the couple was charged with the offence of possession of unlicensed ammunition.

After the police officer had given his evidence, prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche asked the Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne-Matthias, to tender the bullets into evidence.

Defence counsel for the two, Ronald Marks, immediately rose to object. He noted that it was said that the rounds were found in a bag in the toilet tank, but the bag was not in court. In that bag, holding the bullets, there was also said to be a box labelled ‘Remington’, and “that box is not here.” With a matter dealing with ammunition found in a container of some kind, the lawyer stated, the “very first layer of the onion” was the bag and the next, the box, and finally, the ammunition.

There must be a “clear chain of custody,” the lawyer said, noting that the officer had not given any reason in his presentation as to why the chain of custody was broken.

“A break in the chain makes the exhibit, we submit, inadmissible in its present form,” the lawyer concluded.

The prosecution responded by saying that at that stage, the question of credibility did not arise.

He stated that there was no charge for a box or a bag, but ammunition, and that the prosecution’s case was not undermined at all.

“At this stage the court is on good grounds to have the ammunition admitted into evidence,” he stated.

However, after standing the matter down for a few minutes, Browne-Matthias stated that she would not tender the 25 bullets into evidence.

The case being dismissed, the couple walked out of court a few minutes later, free to go.(KR)

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