Archive for January 2nd, 2015

Cop’s gun seized at airport

| 02/01/2015 | 33 Comments

(CNS): A serving police officer whose gun was seized at the airport as he went through security has not been arrested and is still on active duty, the police have confirmed. Inspector Lauriston Burton, who is a licensed firearms holders, was stopped by customs back in October when his gun was spotted in his carry-on bag. Burton claimed to have the firearm in error and was allowed to continue his journey without any arrest. Police have said an enquiry has been underway for the last three months but Burton has not been charged and remains on full active duty. In contrast, on several occasions last year visitors with gun license, mistakenly travelling with ammunition, were arrested, charged and fined as a consequence.

According to Marlon Bodden, a former senior police officer who now heads up the enforcement arm of the customs department, when the gun and ammunition were spotted as the bag was x-rayed, it was seized. But Burton, originally from Jamaica, was not arrested and was allowed to continue his journey.

The officer told customs staff that he had intended to drop the gun and ammunition with a named person on his licence for safe keeping during his absence from home but forgot.

“This being the case, HM Customs made the decision, in consultation with the RCIPS, that this matter is best dealt with administratively. The firearm was retained by HM Customs and the matter referred to the RCIPS for further investigation,” Bodden stated. He added that Burton then continued his journey while customs took the weapon and the bullets.

The police confirmed with CNS this week that Burton’s firearms licence has been suspended and an investigation is being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the officer’s possession of the weapon at the airport.

“Once completed, the file will be forwarded to the director of public prosecutions,” an RCIPS spokesperson said. “The officer remains on full operational duty.”

This is a contrast to a number of arrests at the airport during 2014 where visitors to Cayman were arrested, charged, processed through the courts and fined heavily for their errors and lapse of memory. On four occasions licensed firearms holders from the US have been fined between $1000 -$3000, have been held in custody and had to hire lawyers or extend their stay to face the consequences of their carelessness in the local courts.

A magistrate last summer told an American visitor in such a predicament that Cayman has a “harsh regime because we’ve decided we don’t want guns here.” Raising his concerns about casual approaches to lethal weapons, he added, “It boggles the mind that people have ammunition in backpacks and don’t even know it.”

Nevertheless, Burton seems to have so far been given a pass. After three months of investigation, aside from the suspension of his private firearms licence, there have been no other consequences for the serving police officer.

The latest revelation from the police comes in the wake of the shocking revelation that an RCIPS police officer had been recruited to the service while being under investigation for murder. After being on required leave for two years, he was recalled back to work by Police Commissioner David Baines around ten months before his trial in Jamaica, where he was convicted.

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