Judge suspects but unsure over guilt in gun case

| 11/12/2019 | 17 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Islands courts

(CNS): Elton David Webster walked away from court on Wednesday, a free man after a judge acquitted him on firearms charges. Webster was facing a decade behind bars if he had been found guilty in connection with a hand-gun found at his home, which was hidden behind a microwave at the house he was renting. Justice MacDonald-Bishop said she was suspicious that Webster knew about and probably had hidden the loaded gun, but with competing propositions in the case, she could not be sure he was guilty.

Given that Webster lived at the property with his wife and helper and he claimed others also had access, she could not be satisfied to the required burden of proof that it was Webster’s gun or that he was aware of it.

Although his DNA was found on the ziplock bag and small towel it was wrapped in, there were many ways that his DNA could have got onto those items. With no other direct evidence, she said the case had caused her “serious concerns”, as it all gave rise to very serious suspicion but she was not sure of his guilt.

As she delivered her verdict via video link, having heard the case without a jury when she was acting as a Grand Court judge here in the summer, Justice McDonald-Bishop said it was highly probable that Webster had placed the gun where the police found it when they conducted a search at his home.

Clearly troubled by the case, the judge said the standard was beyond reasonable doubt and she did not feel the evidence reached that point. But she said the gun did not get there at the hand of a complete stranger and someone living in the house put it there.

As she delivered the not guilty verdict, the judge told Webster that she remained suspicious.

“You should count your blessings, every one of them,” she said, adding that he should examine his conscious because he was the one who knew whether he had committed the crime. “If you are involved in criminality, you should take this opportunity to think about your future very carefully,” the judge warned.


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Comments (17)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    remember it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don’t guns have serial numbers that would allow some type of tracking?

    • Anonymous says:

      They have serial numbers, but guess what – criminals often remove them. And in any event, the tracking stops once the weapon passes out of the possession of an owner that is required to register it. Criminals don’t tend to use legally acquired and licenced firearms.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So why wasn’t anyone else in the house charged? If it wasn’t him, had to have been one of the other people, no?

  4. Anonymous says:

    CNS – Thanks for including the judge’s comments on the ruling as it puts things into clearer context.

    Innocent until proven guilty is a high bar but we run a risk as individuals and society if we were to accept a lower bar. These rules are put in place to protect ourselves from a ‘bad’ government, not just bad people.

  5. Wasn’t Me says:

    Widely known as “The Shaggy Defence”

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am so glad that the Judge saw through this flimsy case. Elton, rest easy knowing that the system worked for you. Move on past this disruption and try to recover costs involved with this rediculous court case.

  7. reelly concerned says:

    whats going on with this cayman court system?

    • Anonymous says:

      Very simple – if he’d been convicted it could have easily been overturned on appeal and that would mean more money wasted.

      This is why CoP Baines was pushing for changes in the law to make the householder responsible for any firearms found on their property.

      Don’t worry, this will come around.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hopefully not. It could lead to a scenario where someone hides a firearm on their enemy’s property, anonymously tips off, firearm is recovered and an innocent property owner (maybe the parent of a delinquent) goes to jail for 10 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      The juries are great. For criminals.

  8. Anonymous says:

    cayman justice = no justice

  9. Say it like it is says:

    This is where the Scottish verdict of Not Proven would be appropriate, rather than Not Guilty.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Good god…

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