Prison officer acquitted in relation to charge of ammunition possession
The case against a prison officer charged with ammunition possession was shot down this Wednesday, as the defence for the 12-year employee of the prisons locked down an acquittal.
Carlos Williams has been staring into the barrel of the gun since he was charged with being in possession of one .38 bullet on March 16, without a license.
Not only has he been on suspension from his job, but he may also have been in danger of being fired, should the case have been proven against him.
Therefore, when the matter ended in his favour this week, Williams may have been relieved, as he finally revealed his face to the camera as he walked out of the Serious Offences Court alongside his lawyer, Grant Connell.
When the investigating officer took the stand, there were already holes that presented themselves in the case. The sergeant stated that when he went to Williams’ locker, the lock was unlocked, and therefore the locker had been open. The officer continued, saying that after searching through the locker, he found a bullet in a bag that was at the bottom of the locker. He said that this bag that contained the bullet also contained prescription medicine and documents such as a Western Union receipt bearing the defendant’s name.
Apparently, Williams had said he didn’t know anything about the bullet, he mentioned that the last time he used ammunition was at a training exercise.
Williams was then asked if he knew about the range declaration, which states that officers may not remove any live rounds after the completion of an exercise.
On the matter of the open locker, the defence focused on this, asking, “What did you do to narrow it down that this man (Williams) would have placed it there?”
However, the investigator, who seemed at a loss for words, mentioned that there were cobwebs where the bag was found, but could say nothing else.
It was also not checked if Williams had gone on the range or not.
The Chief Prison Officer was also called upon to give evidence, and here too, was doubt introduced. The prison officer said that he was standing over the officers that were conducting the search, and that, although he could not recall, he thought that the bullet may have fallen out of a book.
When asked under cross examination, the officer also stated that he had learnt that the locker had been given to Williams by another officer, and had not been given to him through the requisite manner that the prison gives out lockers.
Therefore, the Chief could only answer “he claimed the locker,” to the question “that was in fact his locker?”
The Chief also answered that the locker had not been locked.
Counsel for the crown, Karim Nelson stated in his submission to Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias that the issue they had to prove was possession. He stated that the evidence was that Williams had claimed the locker as his own. He said that the prosecution was not saying that someone could not put something in an unsecured locker, “but we are saying that this is unlikely having regard to all the circumstances.”
Nelson highlighted that in the bag with the bullet, it was said that other items with the defendant’s name were found, in his stuff, “way down to the bottom” of the locker.
“We are saying that there is a sufficient nexus between the defendant and the bullet,” he ended.
Connell disagreed. He pointed out the disparity between the Chief Prison Officer’s and the Sergeant’s evidence, one saying the bullet was in a bag, and one saying the bullet fell out of a book.
He also mentioned the evidence that Rodriguez gave that the locker belonged to someone else.
Connell stated that the locker was in a position where it could be accessed at any time, by anyone, on any shift, and that there was a possibility that anyone could have put this in an unsecured locker.
“Anything could have been put there, and the blame put on him,” Connell said.
This Wednesday, Browne-Matthias stated that she was not satisfied that the case was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and Williams was acquitted.
Connell, commenting after the end of the matter, stated, “given the poor investigation and evidence which lack the elements to prove any real case of possession, I don’t know why this [case] was brought to waste judicial time.”