Gun runner gets 9 years

| 26/11/2010

(CNS):Having pleaded guilty three days into his trial for the importation of firearms, Joseph Hurlston was handed a 9 year prison sentence in the Grand Court this morning by Justice Smith. Despite Hurlston’s guilty plea, which brought the statutory minimum sentence on a firearms offence from ten years down to seven, the judge noted that there were aggravating factors and said time must be tacked on. He pointed to the number of weapons that Hurlston had attempted to bring in and that fact that his guilty plea came so late in the day. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

Justice Smith said he did not feel that Hurlston’s claim by his defence counsel that the three guns were bought for his own protection because of a murder that had taken place in his yard was a mitigating factor. 

The judge noted that if Hurlston had wanted a weapon for safety reasons there were provisions for him to apply for a license. The defendant, he said, had imported three handguns and ammunition as well as waiting until the crown had almost closed its case against him before he admitted his guilt. The judge said that he agreed with the crown counsel that the seven year minimum sentence had to be reserved for cases where the defendant had no previous convictions, where there was only one weapon was involved and where the guilty plea was entered at the earliest opportunity.

“I believe an appropriate sentence in this case is nine years,” the the judge said, adding that time already served by the defendant should be taken into account.

Hurlston has been in custody since his arrest in April of this year in East End. The 27-year-old from West Bay admitted going to Jamaica, where he bought three hand guns for $3000, in the wake of a murder which took place in his yard, followed by fire at the property that destroyed his home and which he believed was deliberately set.

The defendant said that, fearing for his life, he had decided to get the guns for protection. He returned from Jamaica via canoe and when he and others were offloaded onto a smaller boat close to Grand Cayman’s East End, the boat took on water and began to sink. Hurlston lost his backpack, which contained two of the guns he had bought, as well as his passport, wallet, drivers license and some drugs, overboard as he tried to save his own life.

Soon after he came ashore with another man in East End in the early hours of the morning of 20 April, they were both spotted by police offers on patrol in the area. When they both fled, the police gave chase, and although Hurlston tried to discard the one remaining firearm as he ran away, the officers recovered the gun from the beach and apprehended him.

Marine patrol officers also searched the area near the East End channel where the boat had capsized and recovered Hurlston’s backpack, the guns, drugs and ID.

During his sentencing hearing last week it was revealed that Hurlston’s yard was the scene of a fatal gang shooting in West Bay last year, in which Marcus Ebanks was killed and Adryan Powell was seriously injured. Raziel Jeffers has now been charged with the Ebanks’ murder and the attempted murder of Powell.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am aware of the extreme inefficiency of the RCIP to "get the job done." However, this does not give lay citizens the right to take the law unto their own conscience. A society where this is accepted is doomed for social unrest. Where the law has no respect, citizens have no sense of safety. Furthermore, neither would visitors. We all have decisions to make in our life’s choices; each decision interacts with Karma to deliver a fair share of what is dealt.

    It should have been 25 years…

    In the case of vehicular manslaughter by drunken driver. The sentence should have also been alot more severe.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Should have been 90 years.  We need to keep these criminals out of society period! He’ll be out in 6 years and this time he’ll finish the job!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This guy is lucky to only get nine years, because if it was left to the public who are sick and tired of these criminal types I’d wager it would have been a lot longer, like maybe 29 years? Why has he got "enemies"? Well, that’s a no-brainer – he’s been living a criminal life-style and victimizing every man, woman and child in our society by trying to destabilize our peace and tranquility. Maybe over the next nine years he’ll come to his senses, and after his release begin to live a decent life and contribute something for a change. Ever notice how totally selfish and self-centered these criminal are?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Should have been at least 20-something years – he imported more than one gun!!!! 3 in fact, and last time I checked we have two arms. So who was the third one for? Should have been 9 years per weapon then plus something for importation. I know of people getting 12 years plus for one gun’s possession. We need examples to be set, not spanks on the hand. Those given spanks on their hands in their early years are the same ones running guns, murdering, being murdered and robbing!!! Check the court website history, and see for yourselves. XXXXX The more we are lenient with them – the more gun crimes we will be faced with. Stop giving chances – they don’t want them! When are we as a society (RCIPS and Judicial system included) going to learn? You cannot do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well done to the Aussie Senior Crown Counsel John Masters (aka: “Croc”) and the legal team.  You did not tolerate the xxx defence xxxx and they had no choice but to plead guilty when you grabbed them and would not let go.  What rubbish about protection, the boat was full of ganja and why was the gun loaded when he was still at sea? 


    I also hear that Croc successfully challenged the xxxx drink drive decision that almost put 80 drunk drivers back on the road.  This is one Aussie expat that I hope never leaves the island.  Go get em Croc!


  6. Anonymous says:

     This guy got nine years for importing guns – not dealing them or killing them. But that girl who was drunk driving and killed that girl only got 15 months. RIDICULOUS!

    • Anonymous says:

       You import a gun to protect yourself and you get 9 years. You go out and get drunk, mash up your car and on top of that take an innocent life despite the warning that you should not drink and drive and all you get is 15 months? This does not make any sense.I think the judge needs to explain the reason behind this sentence. The message I get is that if you are going to be irresponsible on the road, you will be treated a lot kinder if you make sure you are stone drunk when you kill someone.

  7. Anonymous says:

     What about the 16 year old who is being sent to boot camp?  What has happened to the other accomplices?  Was he the only one involved? No mention has been made of his partners.  Very strange.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Where is Customs? This guy almost got into the island with 3 guns…Customs should be protecting our borders…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Most Excellent .. our Justice System is working.. kudos to the RCIPS and the Court system… 9yrs will give this individual a long time to thing about his actions and his possible future. Well done !

  10. Anonymous says:

    well……… live by the sword you die by the sword dude. XXX

  11. bocus says:

    What was the man suppose to do?!  Who is protecting him from his enemies???  I have never seen a system like Cayman!  The Police can’t do sh%t and you arrest a man who imports firearms to get the job done!

    • Anonymous says:

      An old saying "Birds of a feather flock together." As another poster stated above, "live by the sword, die by the sword." Tough xxxx…. and when they catch these armed robbers and they will be caught no question about it, they should go away for at least 25 years, a nice length of time to ponder one’s future.

    • Anonymous says:

      "What was the man supposed to do?!" –

      stop making enemies maybe 

    • Anonymous says:

      Friend, ever wondered why he has "enemies"? Dwell on that for a while, then rethink your reasoning.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t make enemies like that if you are a law abiding, productive member of society.

      You make enemies like that because you are a criminal trying to make easy big money through crime and you end up fighting the other criminals for a piece of the turf.

      No sympathy for you, dude.

  12. flipper says:

    The present face and future of the Cayman Islands.  And the weeds shall multiply until they have taken over the field!

    • Backstorke says:

      Yes the weeds shall multiply until they take over the fields, well in my neighborhood dey nah taking it over.    Lots of ways to get rid of weeds, so if ya is a weed you will be stomped on.    No sympathy for this animal. He intended to do harm and disrupt this island so stop defending the likes of him, he should have gotten 30 years.

  13. Pending says:

    Is it me or does this Justice Smith seem to lenient with his sentences as of recent?

    Boot camp for teen found with gun

    15months for DUI death

    9years for being found with 3 guns, drugs etc.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Cheap if you ask me 9 years for importation of firearms.  What a nonsense sentence – Smith seems to be really lenient on firearms offences – look at the juvenile last week. 

    • anonymous says:

      Should have gotten 29 years for importation.  It is far more dangerous than being found with a gun.  There  are too many guns in Cayman, and the Justice Department need to send a clear message,  NO GUNS,YOU HEAR ME?