By: Gavincia Clarke
(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- The bright future of a young father, track athlete and a University student was shattered on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at the District ‘C’ Magistrate Court.
‘This is one time when sitting as a Magistrate becomes difficult but I have to respect and abide by the law’, were the words of Her Honor, Magistrate Yasmine Clarke who had no choice but to send a young man with a bright future, to prison.
That person was Miles ‘Milo’ Walters of Cotton Ground. He was charged with possession of firearm, possession of 15 rounds of ammunition, larceny and receiving. The larceny and receiving charges were brought about when police officers carried out investigation and discovered that the firearm in question was a licensed pistol that was reported stolen.
Walters who was represented by Attorney, Chesley Hamilton pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Police Prosecution that was led by Sgt. Stephen Hector called fives witnesses to give evidence against the accused. These were Constable Darell Boone, Mr. Raymond Manchester Brantley, Sgt. James Stephen, Armor and Firearm Examiner, Sgt. Cornel Daniel and lead investigator, Constable Vernon George.
Mr. Raymond Manchester Brantley of Prospect Estate in his evidence stated that on October 7, 2013 he was engaged in some construction work at Round Hill, New Castle Estate and after work he went to the Bath Stream. Later that evening he realized that his pistol was missing and he immediately reported the matter to the police.
Lead investigator, Constable Vernon George told the court that on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at about 1:45 a.m. he was on mobile patrol duty along with Constable Boone and other members of the Task Force Unit. George said he was sitting in the outer rare of the vehicle and while in the vicinity of Charlie’s Shop in Cotton Ground he saw a number of individuals standing at the side of the road.
According to George, he saw the defendant, Miles Walters move away from the group. He further stated that he saw him bend down, and reach for something from his waist and put it on the ground, at the spot where he was stooping.
The Constable said as the vehicle came to a stop, he immediately approached the defendant and told him that he saw him put something on the ground. He then said he went to the area where he saw Walters bending down and at that spot he discovered a firearm. He then cautioned Walters and asked him about the findings. Constable George said that Walters replied, ‘that’s a gun, but it isn’t mine’. Walters was taken to the police station along with the firearm.
After the testimony of Constable George, the Prosecution ended its case.
Here, Attorney Chesley Hamilton presented a no case submission in an effort to have the case dismissed. Hamilton told the court that there was no evidence to suggest that it was Walters who put the gun where it was found. Hamilton indicated that other persons were arrested along with Walters and there were no direct information to link Walters to the firearm. He stated that Walters had no knowledge of the firearm.
Attorney Hamilton told the court that the police officers did no forensic testing and no finger print testing. He told the court that if there was any reasonable doubt, that doubt should be given to the defendant. He further stated that none of the officers saw Walters with the gun; they gave evidence that they saw him ‘stoop down’. Hamilton asked the court to withdraw the matter.
To this, Police Hector stated that when the officers arrived on the scene they witnessed the movements by the defendant. Hector said the accused moved away from the group, he stooped down and he removed something from his waist then he came back to his original position. The Sergeant said his actions were not normal unless he was hiding something.
Her Honor agreed and she over ruled the no case submission. As a result the trial continued.
It was then time for 23 year old University student to convince the court on his side of the story.
Miles Walters who is studying Sports Management at an educational institution in the U.S.A. and who is a promising track and field athlete stated that he was at Charlie’s Shop on October 20, 2013, along with six (6) other males when police officers arrived. Walters tried to convince the court that he had no knowledge of the firearm nor did he steal the firearm. He also pointed out that he did not move away from the group. According to Walters, it was Constable George who pulled him aside and asked him about the firearm that was found in the vicinity of the shop.
After Her Honor had listened to the entire case, she ruled that the evidence of Constable Boone and Constable George were basically the same. Both said that they saw a group of men; one moved away, bent down and removed something from his waist. The Prosecution concluded that the defendant moved away and disposed of the weapon on the ground. However, Walters in his evidence told the court that he did not move.
Her Honor continued, ‘What I find puzzling is that, there was a group of men. Why would the officers pick out the defendant and if the police were making up the case, why didn’t they say, they saw him put the gun there? I conclude Miles Walters is guilty’.
Her Honor told the defendant that she was really disappointed with him. She looked at him painfully and said, ‘You had such a bright future. If I could have changed the sentence I would have. If I could have given you a non-custodial sentence I would have because I see that you have potential; but the law states that anyone found with a firearm must be sentenced to 5 to 10 years. She continued, ‘I have seen you run. This is one sentence I have a difficulty doing’.
Walters was sentenced to five (5) years for possession of firearm; and 5 years for possession of ammunition. He was found guilty of receiving but no sentence was recorded. The larceny matter was dismissed. These sentences will run concurrently.
As a result Walters will spend five (5) years in prison.