Gun runner’s yard was scene of West Bay shooting

| 22/11/2010

(CNS): A man who pleaded guilty to the importation of three firearms says he bought the guns to protect himself as a result of a shooting which took place in his West Bay yard in 2009. Joseph Hurlston, who admitted guilt part way through a trial for the offence, said he went to Jamaica earlier this year and bought three handguns, for which he paid $3,000. Hurlston had returned to the Cayman Islands with the unlicensed weapons in a canoe but on nearing the reef in East End the boat had capsized. Hurlston was apprehended by police soon after coming ashore with just one of the weapons, which was loaded. The court heardthat Hurlston’s home in Bonaventure Road was the location of the murder of Marcus Ebanks back in May 2009.

In the same incident Adryan Powell, who was 14 at the time, was also shot and is now confined to a wheelchair, and Ebanks’ younger brother was also injured when two masked men allegedly opened fire on a group of youngsters hanging around Hurlston’s yard. It was not until late May of this year that Raziel Jeffers was charged with the murder and is now awaiting trial. So far, police have made no charges in connection with the second shooter.

The court heard on Friday afternoon that Hurlston, who had no previous offences for violent crime, was a witness in this murder case. Hurlston’s only previous dealings with the court until this gang related shooting had been over possession and cultivation of ganja.

The 28-year-old West Bay man now faces a minimum sentence of seven years in jail as a result of the guilty plea, but which could be higher. The crown argued that while a guilty plea lowers the statutory minimum for firearms cases from ten years to seven, because Hurlston was so late with his plea he should not be given the discount.

John Masterson, acting for the crown, said Hurlston’s plea had come very late in the day and only once he knew for certain that all of the evidence against him would be admitted. “This was a tactical plea,” Masterson told thecourt. “He only entered his plea after highly incriminating evidence was read to the court.” Masterson stated that Hurlston had put the crown to prove the case, had not saved the court any time as all the witnesses had been called, and despite knowing he was guilty he did not admit his crime until the last possible moment. “The defendant always knows whether he is guilty,” Masterson noted, suggesting that the discount on sentencing is there to encourage people to admit to guilt as soon as possible.

Defence counsel representing Hurlston told the court that there was no qualification in the law that a guilty plea had to come at a specific time to earn the three year discount and that the judge should work from a seven year minimum sentence. Lucy Organ pointed out that, as his defence attorney, she could not advise her client to plead guilty to an offence until she knew that the firearm could be defined as a weapon and that there was proof that a crime had occurred.

She said the guns were bought, albeit misguidedly, through fear as a result of the May 2008 murder in his year and that there was no evidence to suggest Hurlston intended to use them in pursuit of a crime. With no previous convictions for violence and certainly no previous connections with firearms, but with no authorities in the jurisdiction to consider, Organ asked the judge to use his discretion when sentencing her client.

Justice Smith said he would hand down his sentence on Friday 26 November.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just a few questions/comments;

    Was the gun used in Jamaica to take the life of someone?, and if so, could he be charge for that crime?  His US Visa should be taken away and no entry to Jamaica should ever be given to him again. 

    I don’t see him going to Jamaica just so and getting hooked up with someone to sell him a gun.  He had to have some kind of connection over there.  He could have been killed over there for the money alone.

    If he was not arrested, that same gun would be on our streets, maybe  taking the life of someone and taking the life of someone child. 

    Lock him up and throw away the key, with his intention alone you should not have a problem. (Like the saying in Jam, "No problem man"

    West Bayer






  2. A Torney says:

    Give him no discount for this plea.  Only people who admit early in the process that they did it should get any discount.

    And I don’t buy the sob story.  Three guns?  Give him 10 years for each of them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So this poor inocent man flew to Jamaica, told the immigration official he was here to buy three guns (one for each hand, plus one spare) and could they point him towards a gun seller, bought the illegal guns, asked the Jamaica Tourist Board where he could hire a canoe to take him to the Cayman Islands, landed illegally in East End, without bothering with Immigration and Customs, and then expects us to feel sympathy for him.

    Throw the book at him and lock him up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Go XXXX have u ver been shot at b4 I guess not. Have u been sittin in ur yard b4 and someone just starts opening fire no u haven’t so shut XXXX up. Free up my boi joseph

  4. Anonymous says:

    sounds to me like a case gone south based on hanging and runningn with the wrong crowd

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes I can understand this young man living in fear after what happen especially if he was a witness to the crime.

    He obviously was not involved in any violent crimes in the past but I guess concern for his safety pushed him to this point.

    What he did was wrong but I do hope they will take in to consideration what his family and all the other families that were hurt by this violent crime are going through and the fear they live with since this occurred.

    Even though he is not a teenager I do believe he should be given a second chance instead of being placed northward with those who committed this crime.


    • by the people and for the people says:

      What complete BS. 

      It’s not like he found a gun on the street, picked it up to look at it and was then arrested. 

      He planned long and hard, and went well out of his way to import into Cayman the tools of death to be able to visit killings upon the people of Cayman.  Blood is on his hands for this effort, even if he missed the opportunity to pull the trigger himself and gun down his neighbours.

      I agree with the other poster: throw the book at him.

  6. Anonymous says:

    maybe I can relate with Joe cause for sure as hell will the Police ever protect ya from the don man? the way tings is now i too need a handgun! i have no confidence in this commissioner’s policies