By:St. Clair Sazam Hull
(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS)-The Magistrate Court in Court in Charlestown District C Nevis commenced its sitting on Thursday, February 16, 2017 before Her Honor, Yasmine Clarke.
The matter before the Court was that of Patrick Howell a resident of Cane Garden. Howell was charged for smuggling a firearm, possession of ammunition and possession of having an illegal firearm. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to Police Prosecutor, Eurita Percival, on Thursday, June 9, 2016, a searched was conducted on the accused and ammunition and a firearm were found in his possession.
The Prosecution’s first witness was Corporal Darrel Boon. He indicated that on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at about 6:00 p.m. some other officers and himself were on duty patrol in the area of Fig Tree. He stated that they stopped and searched the defendant on the suspicion of having in his possession controlled drugs, arms and ammunition.
Boon noted that Sergeant Carty conducted the search on Howell and he saw when he removed what appeared to be a firearm from the defendant’s waist. The Officer said that Carty cautioned the defendant and asked him what it was but Howell gave no response. He pointed out, that Carty informed Howell that he was under arrest for possession of firearm. Boon stated that both Howell and the findings were transported to the Charlestown Police Station.
Constable Trevin Mills was the Prosecution’s second witness. He stated that on the day in question, he was on patrol with two other officers, Corporal Boon and Sergeant Carty in the Church Ground area. Mills said whilst on patrol, he saw the defendant coming towards them and they stopped him and identified themselves as Police officers. Mills told the Court, that Howell was told that he was suspected of having drugs, arms and ammunition in his possession. He stated that Carty began a search on the accused, and removed what appeared to be a firearm from his waist. Mills pointed out, that Howell and the findings were taken into Police Custody for investigative purposes.
The defendant was without a lawyer and represented himself. He asked the witness if he was running, walking or hiding when he said he was on patrol. Mills responded and said that he was with the other two officers. The defendant told Mills that was not true because Boon and Carty were behind a wall and he was across the road. Mills replied and said, “I was not across the road”. Howell also asked Mills if other individuals were with him at the time and Mills said no one else was there. When asked how the procedure of arresting him went, Mills said he was not there during that time because he went to do something. Howell asked the witness how many officers handled the firearm and Mills indicated that Carty alone handled the firearm.
Sergeant Jasper Carty also gave evidence on behalf of the Prosecution. Carty indicated that he was on patrol duties alongside Corporal Boon and Constable Mills. He told the Court, that he was in the area of Church Ground when he saw the defendant Patrick Howell. Carty said that he identified himself as an officer in plain clothes to Howell and told him that he was suspected of having drugs, firearm and ammunition. The witness said that he proceeded and searched Howell and whilst searching him, he felt a hard object in his waist. He indicated, that he hoisted the shirt of the defendant and he saw a firearm.
Carty stated that he removed the object from Howell’s waist and ordered him to go on the ground and he complied. The Officer said that the defendant was immediately handcuffed and he contacted Officers Browne and Stephens and they came to the scene. He said he informed Stephens as to what had transpired and Stephens carried out a safety check on the object. Carty indicated that Stephens ejected one round of ammunition from the weapon and placed it on the ground. He said that Browne took photos of the object and placed them in a brown evidence bag and the object along with Howell, were taken to Charlestown Police Station.
The Officer said that he interviewed Howell at the Criminal Investigation Department Office. He noted, that he cautioned the defendant and told him that he was making inquiries into the matter. Carty said that he showed the object to Howell and told him to put his signature on the item, but he refused. The witness noted, that the firearm was packaged and sealed and the following Friday, he had a conversation with Stephens. Carty told the Court, as a result of what he was told by Stephens, he formerly arrested and charged the defendant for possession of firearm, possession of ammunition and smuggling of firearm. He pointed out, that Howell was issued with copies of the warrants.
During cross-examination, Howell asked Carty if he was given a chance to read his rights during the arrest and Carty replied and said, “I told you that you can consult a lawyer, a family member and that you were privy to one phone call”. Howell told the witness that in his statement he said that he was on a dirt road in Fig Tree and Carty said, “Yes I said it”. Howell responded and told Carty, that the road is not a dirt road the road is paved. Howell also asked Carty about the number of officers that were present when they pointed their guns at him, and if they were hiding behind a wall. Carty indicated that three Officers were present and they were not hiding behind any wall. They were on patrol.
Constable Antonio Browne also gave evidence for the Prosecution. Browne noted that he was on duty when he received some information from Carty and as a result of the information, he traveled to Church Ground. He told the Court that upon arrival, he saw the defendant lying in the road surrounded by some Officers. He further stated that he saw a firearm next to Howell and he inquired from Carty about the situation at hand. The witness said that at the end of the conversation with Carty, he started to take photographs. He indicated, that he took photographs of Howell in the road and photographs of the firearm in relation to where he first saw it.
Browne pointed out that he asked Stephens to assist him in making the weapon safe; and he saw when Stephens cleared the firearm. He noted that whilst Stephens was clearing the weapon, he observed that a round of ammunition was at the ready and one was in the bridge. Browne said he took photographs of that as well. Later, they were all transported to the Charlestown Police Station.
The defendant Patrick Howell also gave evidence in the matter. He pointed out, that he was walking along the road with two other persons and when he was approaching the property of ‘Johhny Boason’, he saw two Officers popped up from behind a wall. Howell said that the Officers were Boon and Carty and they told him to stop and put his hands in the air. He stated that they took a knife, a rag, a hat and some money from his possession. Howell said that the Officers ordered him to go on the ground and when he did a firearm was placed next to him. He indicated that the two individuals that were walking with him were given hand signals to go away.
During cross-examination, Prosecutor Percival told the defendant that he was carrying a gun. She told the defendant, that he wouldn’t mistake a gun for a knife. She asked Howell how many guns he saw in the possession of Officer Carty. Howell replied that he saw one, which was the one Carty was pointing at him. The Prosecutor also asked the defendant why he did not sign for a pocket knife since they took the knife from him. Howell said that they never showed him the knife or asked him to sign for it. Percival told the accused that it was because he was not carrying a knife, he was carrying a gun. Howell said he was not carrying any gun; the firearm was planted on him.
In making her decision, Her Honor found the defendant guilty on all three charges and asked him if he had anything to say. Howell said he had nothing to say.
For smuggling the firearm he was sentenced to two years in prison. For having ammunition in his possession he was sentenced to five years and for having an illegal firearm he was sentenced to six years. The ammunition and firearm sentences will run concurrently.