Guns found in toy delivery

| 23/03/2010

(CNS): Cassandra Bodden, who has denied importing an unlicensed firearms and ammunition, stood trial this morning, Monday 22 March before Justice Cooke and a jury of four men and three women. The crown opened its case against the 26-year-old woman alleging that she knowingly imported weapons to the Cayman Islands in a package containing a toy car. The crown claims that between the 23 and 27 April the defendant imported four firearms, described as a .40 Smith and Wesson, a 9mm Ruger, a .45 Glock model 21, and a 9mm Arcus as well as 420 rounds of ammunition.

Trisha Hutchinson presented the prosecution’s case, suggesting that while Bodden will claim she knew nothing about the package or its contents, the crown would demonstrate thorough circumstantial evidence that she did know the guns were in the package.

The prosecuting counsel said that Bodden appeared to have knowledge of the content of the package without having been informed by the shipping agent and that she failed to turn up for a planned inspection of the contents, which Hutchinson said in her opening statement pointed to her guilt.

The crown revealed that on 25 April 2009 Bodden was telephoned by a local shipping agent, CayTrans, to notify her that they had documentation relating to the arrival of a package for her at their offices. On Monday 27 April the clerk called Bodden again to remind her to collect the paperwork and pay the shipping costs.

The court heard that between the first and second calls Bodden had contacted three different police officers to ask advice about the fact that a package she was not expecting had arrived for her.

When they took the stand each one of the officers, who said they knew Bodden as a friend, testified that they had advised her against collecting the package if she was unsure what was in it and who had sent it.

The first police witness to take the stand was PC Brendan Phillips, who said he had been friends with Bodden since high school. He said that while he had told her she should not sign for or pay anything on the package, if she was not sure what it was or was suspicious about it, he had agreed to go with her to the agents to find out what it was.

Answering questions from the crown, Phillips stated that on arrival at CayTrans, Bodden appeared to recognize the handwriting on the paperwork and said it was possibly a joke as it looked like it was a toy car from someone, but he said he could not recall what name she had said. However, he said that she had told this person she wanted a real car.

During cross examination Ben Tonner, her defence counsel, asked Phillips how Bodden had reacted to seeing the documentation and he said she seemed relieved and her manner lightened after having being quite apprehensive.

The CayTrans clerk, however, recalled the events differently. In what became rather confused testimony, the CayTrans clerk stated that when Bodden arrived with Phillips she had said that she had wanted to bring in a car for a child. The clerk also denied telling Bodden what the contents of the package were until after she arrived at the office. Although the clerk had admitted to calling Bodden twice to tell her the package was there, while she had the documentation in front of her she said she never mentioned the package was a toy car from Walmart.

Two other police officers also testified that they had a conversation with Bodden about the delivery that had arrived and they both said she had mentioned a toy coming from the US and asked their advice as Bodden had told them she was not expecting the delivery.

When he took the stand Seargent Richards Laws recalled telling Bodden she should report the arrival of the mystery package to George Town police station and get the police to liaise with customs about it. He told the court that he had then suggested if she wasn’t comfortable making a report that she should contact another police officer, DC Wanda Nixon.

DC Nixon then took the stand and the court heard that Bodden had called her, as advised, and that she told her that a package that she was not expecting, that contained a toy, had arrived for her.

Nixon asked Bodden if she knew anyone overseas that would send her a package without notifying her and she said no. Nixon stated that Bodden had told her the only person she knew who was overseas at that time was David Lyons and he, she said, was in the US having surgery but she did not have a contact number for him.

Nixon said she told Bodden not to collect it and when Bodden asked if she went to collect it with another police officer, Nixon said she had pointed out that if it was suspicious it wouldn’t make any difference.

The last person on the stand in the first day of the trial was a customs officer who confirmed that Bodden had come to the customs department with a police officer to collect the package. She had filled out the paper work and then returned at a laterdate to pay the duty.

The trial continues on Tuesday morning with further testimony from customs officers.

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