Gun case thrown out after poor police probe

| 07/12/2016 | 31 Comments

(CNS): A case against two men charged with possession of a loaded unlicensed gun was thrown out by a judge Wednesday after the crown failed to present enough evidence to support a guilty verdict. Even though a Browning 9-mm semi-automatic pistol, loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, was found by police officers in a car in which the defendants were sleeping, failures by the police left the court unable to convict because the judge said he could not be sure which, or if either, of the men had knowledge or control of the weapon.

Jamaican nationals Marlon Miller (35) and Otis Brown (26) both dodged a ten-year jail sentence because there was no evidence before the court to indicate if one of them had brought the weapon into the car, and if so, which one.

They both denied knowing anything about the pistol and had implicated each other. Miller said that when he picked up Brown to give him a ride he had a red bag with him, while Brown claimed that a red bag was already in the car when he got in, but neither had seen or was aware of a gun.

Police had turned up at the Bodden Town home of Brown one early morning in June last year with a search warrant for his house and the car that Miller was driving, which he later told police belonged to a friend. When the police arrived some time before 6am, they found the men asleep in the car on the driveway outside Brown’s apartment

There was no evidence as to why the police had gone to the house and on what basis they had a warrant. However, during a previous court appearance following the men’s arrest, prosecutors had suggested that a female acquaintance of Brown had been involved in an altercation with him earlier, when he had produced a firearm. But she did not come to court and no statement was presented about that allegation when the trial opened this week.

In a very short and unusual case, the crown called no witnesses at all but instead presented and relied upon a series of admissions. Prosecutor Scott Wainwright said that the evidence against the two men was based on finding the gun in the car, as recorded in the police officers’ statements, and three pictures taken of the weapon, which was wrapped in a t-shirt and found in the passenger side of the car.

Later forensic tests indicated that neither Brown’s DNA nor Miller’s matched the mixed profiles found on either the gun or the t-shirt it was wrapped in. No other forensic tests were conducted, including on the red bag that both men spoke about in police interviews.

But Wainwright said the crown relied on the fact that in police photographs taken at the scene the gun was partially visible and it was inconceivable that the men, and Brown in particular, were not aware it was there.

After the crown presented its case, defence attorneys Laura Larner of Samson & McGrath, who represented Miller, and Amelia Fosuhene of Brady Attorneys, who represented Brown, argued that there was no case to answer because of the prosecution’s failure to offer any evidence that could support that either defendant knew about the gun, let alone had control of the weapon.

Both argued on behalf of their clients that they had not brought the gun to the car and there was no evidence at all to indicate that either man was aware that the other may have had a gun.

The court also heard that the police crime scene pictures were taken around two hours after the men were found sleeping in the car, and although partially visible in the images, there was no evidence indicating how the gun was positioned when it was first discovered.

No police officers came to court to describe the chain of events from when they arrived to the moment they seized the firearm. The senior investigating officer on the case is no longer in Cayman and she was not called.

In his ruling, Justice Charles Quin pointed out that in order to convict he had to be sure that either one or both of the defendants had knowledge and control of the weapon but there was no such evidence.

“This case falls short of proving the weapon was in their possession,” Justice Quin said, as he indicated that although he “harboured deep suspicions”, there was not enough evidence to say either man had control of the gun to meet the requirements of the law.

The judge raised his concerns about failures in the investigation. He said he realised that the RCIPS has a difficult job and in need of the community’s support but “regrettably” they had missed potential evidence.

Justice Quin noted that the red bag found in the car and some shoes, all of which were near the gun, were never forensically tested and it was never established who owned them.

The judge also questioned the issues surrounding a missing “vital statement” by a senior officer and the failure of that officer, who was in charge of the investigation, to come to court to answer the many questions in the case. He said that it was important senior officers were available to the court.

As he discharged both defendants, he said the only satisfaction in the case was that at least he could order the destruction of the gun.

Following the verdict the police released a short statement regarding the judge’s comments and indicated that the case would be reviewed.

“We are aware of the observations of Mr Justice Charles Quin today after the prosecution of a 2015 case involving firearms charges was discontinued,” the RCIPS stated. “The concerns Mr Justice Quin raised about the police investigation in the case will be part of an internal review of the matter, and any investigative deficiencies will be addressed. The confiscation of illegal firearms, as well as the successful prosecution of those who possess them, have always been and continue to be a major priority for police as a matter of public safety.”

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Comments (31)

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  1. Ex-Patriot?? says:

    The Police make arrests for suspected breach of the law. The DPP decides whether to file charges in court based on the evidence produced.
    If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    name the muppett cops!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Stupid is as stupid does!

  4. I'm Free! says:

    Not really the polices fault the prosecutor should have known this from the start, this is a very similar case several years ago and the same verdit. We have such slack donkey prosecutors on this island a majority of them should be fired.

    Very simple DNA test. Of course not.

    • Anonymous says:

      That DNA test still has to be requested through our dear RCIPS so in the event that it MAY have been requested by the Prosecution, it was probably overlooked or ignored by the officer in charge which seems to be the norm.. like every other thing they don’t see.. unless it’s popping a wheelie down the street and disturbing the peace. These clowns don’t even bother to show up to Court nowadays but ready to hand out a ticket for that Christmas Bonus.. Ho Ho Ho!

  5. Unison says:

    CNS: “Justice Charles Quin pointed out that in order to convict he had to be sure that either one or both of the defendants had knowledge and control of the weapon but there was no such evidence.”

    I think this is where Police should never be so quick to make an arrest or even handle an illegal weapon BEFORE SURVEILLANCE IS MADE TO PROVE WHO HANDLES IT.

    I think the Police learnt a most unfortunate lesson.

    • Anonymous says:

      Other than the senior officer not coming to court I can’t understand what the police did wrong. Ask the 200 prisoners in Northward how effective the police are.

      Anyone noticed that we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Which agency in Cayman arrested all of these people? Ah ha the police.

    • Anonymous says:

      I highly doubt they learnt anything at all….this is a simple case of the Jamiacan police letting off their Jamaican crime partners.

  6. Anonymous says:

    RCIPS and DPP need to better understand the core competencies of their chosen professions. There are far too many of these “weak evidence” dismissals that have somehow been allowed to proceed to trial. It’s common. So many that it begs the question: is there anybody in the DPP capable of evaluating a case to determine if there is sufficient evidence prior to proceeding? At some early pre-trial stage, someone needs to ask obvious questions like, “whose prints are on the handgun”? The public are paying millions for this unprofessionalism and ineptitude, and “bad guys” are going free as a result. The public has every right to insist on a reasonable amount of professionalism and competence, as it relates to the consumption of our funds, and the wasting of the court’s time.

  7. Anonymous says:

    what a joke and unfortunate waste of the court’s time! All officers involved should be charged with criminal negligence and banned from working in any police force going forward.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, can someone explain what the police did wrong here? they find two men in a car with a gun, neither admits ownership. There is no other evidence to present (and please don’t start with ‘they need to crack some heads…” BS), The failing is in the court system

      • Anonymous says:

        Let’s count the wrongs as outlined in this article: How about not bothering to test the bag that the gun was found in or the shoes found nearby? How about not taking pictures for 2 hours after finding them sleeping in the car, or bothering to take note of where in the car the gun was found? How about actually showing up / calling into court to give your version of events?

        Quite frankly from personal experience, the RCIPS don’t know diddly squat about how to properly handle evidence as the crime scene is set up? I suppose the prosecutor is supposed to handle that too, right? The failing my friend started with the RCIPS, and then the others followed the same trend.

      • Anonymous says:

        In the real world it would be the owner of the car. In the third world they are sleeping in the car (instead of the house?) but no one can prove ownership of the car?If one of them is lying the other is to blame. Third world if two of them are lying then its OK to let them both off free. Unless one of them is an expat. Then its his or her fault. Its going to be a long time before Grand Cayman is not a third world island. Plan accordingly.

  8. Mr. D says:

    If you own the car it is you are responsible it you own the gun you are responsible. why are these cases wasting public money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, seeing as you are responsible, as a driver of a vehicle, to make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt and can be charged if they aren’t, it seems a little unbelievable you can’t be held responsible for the contents.

    • Freddy says:

      I agree with you 100% and if the car was loaned to them by the owner then the owner should be charged with the gun possession . Plain out ridiculous is what it is. XXXXX

      • Unison says:

        Yes but … you have two men in the car. Let’s say one of the men is you, and you are the innocent one. Would you see it good judgement if the Judge ignores the need of evidence and penalizes you for an offence you didn’t commit?

        If I was a Judge, I would want to know that my judgements are sound. In order to protect the innocence of one man, I would let the two go.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Poor Poor. Love my COPS. Poor as crap. Booo

  10. Anonymous says:

    The story reads, “There was no evidence as to why the police had gone to the house and on what basis they had a warrant.” Then further down refers to an unnamed senior officer who failed to attend court and give evidence. What the heck was going on here? This goes way beyond incompetence.

  11. Uncle John says:

    This is happening too often and should be addressed by the new commissioner of police going forward, a case like this that two people got catch red handed and walked away free, that officer needs to lose his job right away!!!

  12. Soiled Son says:

    Jamaicans Marlon Miller and Otis Brown need to find their way back to Jamaica.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Eh, doesn’t sound like much of case to begin with, since the ridiculous justice system requires DNA on the gun to ever convict anyone of possession – even if they are found sleeping with it like a teddy bear

  14. Crab Claw says:

    What about deportation just the fact they were found with a gun.

    I’m shocked, in most other Gun cases all sort of DNA can be done, but these too the Police seem to be falling over themselves not doing their jobs to keep them out of Jail.

    Deport them and fire some cops for this piece of shabby work.

    Immigration Department do your job today or you all need to be fired as well, if these are not Caymanians they don’t deserve to be sharing the soil I walk on in this country.

    And as for all you politicians remember your time to be voted on is soon, start moving on forcing these types of people out or country, forget their human rights as they don’t care about the fellow citizens of Cayman human rights, we want them gone.

  15. Anonymous says:

    uh-oh spaghettios……..the cayman police-cops
    btw give us some more money……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  16. Allar says:

    WTF this is unheard of. The officer is a slacker plain and straight. Slack slack slack

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