Suspect acquitted in prison gun case

| 21/05/2019 | 5 Comments
Cayman News Service

HMP Northward

(CNS): It took a jury less than two hours on Tuesday to find Matthew Anthony Whittaker (28) not guilty of charges relating to the possession of a loaded unlicensed firearm in the parking lot at HMP Northward on 6 May 2017. The crown had accused him of pulling the weapon and a knife on another man during an altercation near the perimeter fence of the prison, where he had taken his girlfriend to visit an inmate. The case was based largely on the evidence of a prison officer who claimed he had seen Whittaker with the gun.

When police arrived at the scene Whittaker attempted to escape and was chased by officers. He was caught and arrested but no gun was found on him at that time and no weapons were found during a search of the area around the prison.

However, during a more intense search the following day police officers found a small revolver with three bullets inside hidden in the soil of a plant pot near to the prison fence.

Whittaker had denied all the charges, and despite evidence from the prison officer and the recovery of the weapon, there were several inconsistencies and challenges with the officer’s evidence.

These discrepancies were noted by the judge as he summed up the case for the jury before they were sent to deliberate. The prison officer had also admitted knowing Whittaker from school and engaging in a violent altercation with him some years ago.

Experts called by the crown and the defence differed in their opinion on whether or not the gun was actually capable of firing and whether the ammunition was viable. As a result of those differences over the condition of the gun and bullets, Whittaker had also been charged with possession of an imitation gun with intent to resist arrest as an alternative.

But the three men and four women of the jury rejected all of the charges and delivered a unanimous not guilty verdict on all the related counts after a short deliberation.

As they delivered their verdicts, Whittaker, who was dressed in a red shirt and red tie with white pants, broke down. As the judge discharged him from the case, he turned to the jury and thanked them, saying, “God bless you!”

Although Whittaker was acquitted and has dodged what would have been a mandatory minimum ten years in jail if he had been found guilty of possessing a working firearm, he was remanded in custody, as he is currently serving time for an unrelated domestic violence conviction.

Tags: ,

Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (5)

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  1. Baya Retired Officer says:

    A Dubious Prison service run by dubious characters with absolutely no credibility now it would seem. What and awful mess this little place is in???

  2. Anonymous says:

    What relevance does his court attire have to this article?

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  3. Bertie : B says:

    When you have gone to school or partied with members of the jury it is difficult to say the least to get convictions in Cayman , or any small populated island . Trials should be by judge and judge alone .

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  4. Too much foul play 4 U says:

    The prison is a real joke not at all surprise at this outcome. Sad when the word of suspected offender has credibility over a law enforcement witness .Speak volumes about many things especially the now prison service. What a terrible shame and mess we are in here in Cayman today.

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  5. Prisoner Zero says:

    Are we surprise here? all one has to do is have a look at those in charge now at the prison minus the director. They don’t exactly instill trust and confidence in the prison service now do they?? it’s time for a general clean up of corruption and misconduct at Northward as its well overdue. Deputy Gov & Minister Rivers!

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