11th hour plea by gunman

| 31/01/2013

IMG_6250 (269x300)_0.jpg(CNS): A 27-year-old man from George Town admitted possession of an unlicensed firearm Wednesday just ahead of the start of a trial against him and his co-defendant. Roger Moore was due to be tried alongside Osbourne Douglas before a jury in connection with an incident last May but at the last minute pleaded guilty. Moore was found in possession of a loaded handgun when it fell from his trouser leg during a police search after the car he was in was stopped on Seymour Drive in George Town. Meanwhile, the crown elected to press on with the same charge against Douglas, the driver of the car, who was also arrested on the night.

Although the jury heard that no weapon was found on Douglas on the night of the search, later scientific tests connected the 26-year-old George Towner to the weapon.

Moore’s guilty plea was accepted and confirmed by the jury, which had already been impanelled before the trial started. The prosecuting counsel, Kenneth Ferguson, then opened the crown's case against Douglas. He said that the defendant was driving the car on the night the gun was recovered from Moore and that he had attempted to get the weapon when it fell from his friend’s trouser leg. Forensic evidence had later linked Douglas to the small gun, he said.

A jury of three men and four women heard how two uniformed officers on patrol had spotted the car driven by Douglas on Seymour Drive in George Town in the early hours of the morning. In his evidence PC Andrew Morgan said that Douglas had called out to his fellow officer, PC Stanley Clarke, who driving the patrol car, as the suspects' vehicle passed the police in the opposite direction. The cops turned their car around and began to follow Douglas’ vehicle and shortly after pulled the white Honda Civic over.

As they were making their routine checks of the vehicle and the people inside, which included Douglas, Moore and an unnamed female, the officers received information from 911 which led to the men and the car being searched after the armed unit of the police was called to the scene.

Unarmed PC Morgan, who searched Moore, told the court that Moore was resistant to the search, during which the gun fell from the right leg of his pants. As the officer reached  for the gun, Douglas had also tried to get the gun by reaching out his foot but only succeeded in stepping on the officer’s hand. Moore than tried to grab the weapon and a tussle ensued between the officer and Moore, who ran off but was apprehended a short time later.

PC Morgan recovered the gun and removed the magazine, making it safe, before handing it to an armed officer from the Uniform Support Group. He admitted that he was not wearing gloves during the search but the priority had been to recover the firearm and make it safe.

Douglas has denied having any knowledge of the weapon and his defence attorney made it clear to the jury during her cross examination of the police officer that her client had been the one to draw attention to the police, had been driving the car at a normal speed when followed, that the car windows were not tinted and that he had offered no resistance to the police when they made the various document checks or when he was searched. She also pointed out the possibilities of cross contamination when Douglas and PC Morgan had come into contact with each other and the gun when it first fell to the ground.

Meanwhile, as Douglas was on trial in Court Two, next door in Court One a 24-year-old man from George Town also faced a jury of five men and two women for the same offence. Marcus Manderson was arrested in Windsor Park after police said he threw an unlicenced weapon in his possession over a wall during a chase in February last year. The weapon turned out to be a modified flare gun.

Both men are currently remanded in custody and the trials are expected to continue into next week.

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