Guns imported through legal ‘loophole’, court finds

| 12/02/2024
Anton Parygin, Cayman News Service
Anton Parygin

(CNS): The crown’s case against Anton Parygin (45), a Russian national with both Canadian and Israeli citizenship, hit shaky ground this week ahead of his scheduled trial. Parygin, who brought three unlicensed guns with him when he moved to the Cayman Islands for work, faces several charges relating to importing and possessing illegal weapons, but a judge ruled this week that an exception in the law, largely intended for transient travellers on private planes and boats, could apply to his case.

Parygin arrived on Grand Cayman in February last year and was arrested shortly after he collected his luggage, in which he had a 9mm semi-automatic rifle, a 9mm pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun as well as ammunition. 

Prior to his arrival, Parygin had corresponded with the RCIPS about importing these weapons and had been advised that he would need to apply for an importation permit and a firearms licence before he could bring them into the Cayman Islands.

During legal arguments presented on Tuesday to Justice Marlene Carter, who is presiding over the judge-alone trial, defence attorney Ben Tonner KC told the court that Parygin had read the Firearms Act and concluded that he could bring his weapons with him and declare them to customs, who would then hold the guns until he made the necessary applications to the RCIPS for the documents.

Tonner argued that this section of the law, despite being intended for travellers passing through Cayman on private yachts or jets with lawful weapons, does not define a traveller as transient or limit the time it takes to meet the requirements of importation.

The prosecution argued that, despite the lack of defined timelines or a description of transient travellers, it was clear from the wording of this section of the law that it applied only to travellers passing through and was not intended to apply to people who were importing the weapons permanently and coming to live here.

The crown said that Parygin was told what he must do by the police and that until he had an import permit, he could not bring the guns. But he disregarded the directions he was given by the RCIPS and took it upon himself to bring the firearms anyway.

As a result, after he collected his luggage and made his way to the customs declaration line, he was arrested and the guns were seized. He was later charged and was due to stand trial last week.

However, the case has been adjourned because the judge found in Parygin’s favour that the law is not clear and, by following the ordinary meaning of the words, the defendant was entitled to presume that the section of the law applied to him, and he had declared the weapons immediately upon his arrival.

Justice Carter did not make any orders, merely finding that prosecutors had not made the case of illegally importing guns, and she urged the crown to reconsider the case. However, prosecutors chose to press ahead with the case against him on the importation charge as well as the charge of possession, which Tonner had argued should be dropped if the ingredients for a crime in relation to the importation charge were not made out.

Given the crown’s decision, the defence team made an application for an abuse of process argument, which has been set for March, when the case is expected to continue.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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