Gun found in bushes earns CUC linesman 7 years jail

| 03/06/2013

(CNS): A 42-year-old man from Breakers was sentenced to seven years in jail Thursday for possession of an unlicensed firearm. Michael Hugh Powell admitted the offence when he was arrested at his home last November and pleaded guilty in January of this year. Claiming that he found the Longhorn revolver in the bushes in Prospect while at work for CUC, Powell kept the weapon in his house for around two months before it was discovered by police following an operation at his home. Although he argued that he had never intended to use the gun and wanted to hand it in, Justice Charles Quin said he could find no exceptional circumstances in the case and Powell was given the mandatory minimum sentence.

Although Powell, who has worked for CUC since leaving school, has no previous convictions, had admitted his crime from the start and co-operated fully with the authorities, the law required the judge to hand down the lengthy sentence. Even though there was no evidence that Powell had tried to use the gun in a crime, the firearm’s law provides for a mandatory sentence of those found guilty of possessing any unlicensed firearm of ten years after trial or seven years following a guilty plea.

According to Powell’s defence attorney, the discovery of the gun was purely accidental and he had kept the loaded revolver out of stupidity and because he did not want the real owner to know he had handed the weapon over to the police.

In his interview with the police, Powell told the officer that he had found the weapon while at work but he had returned to the spot that night and then took the gun home. “Being stupid and not thinking, I took it home. I wrapped it up in a towel and it was there (under the nightstand) from then.”

Defence attorney Trevor Burke told the judge on behalf of his client that he had made discreet enquiries about handing in the weapon but when he asked for a particular officer, he found that he had left the RCIPS, and in the absence of a gun amnesty at the time, Powell had held on to the weapon to keep it out of the hands of criminals.

Despite the glowing character references and even details of Powell assisting the police to recover drugs and helping a victim after a shooting he had witnessed at a gas station, the judge was not swayed that there were any exceptional circumstances and struggled to understand why Powell had taken and kept the weapon. The judge found that Powell, who was familiar with guns and had previously held a firearms licence, must have been aware that it was a loaded and dangerous illegal weapon.

“The court is at a complete loss as to why the defendant should return to the bushes where he saw the firearm and collect the firearm, and further, why the defendant would keep the firearm in his custody and under his control for so many weeks,” the judge stated in his sentencing ruling. “With the greatest of respect to the defendant’s leading counsel, the submission that the defendant went back to the bushes in the middle of the night to recover the firearm in order to remove it from criminal circulation is implausible,” Justice Quin said, adding that keeping if for up to ten weeks had compounded his “very stupid mistake”.

The judge said the defendant had several options when he found the weapon: he could have shared the discovery with his fellow CUC workers and then called the police or he could have left the scene and called the police confidential hotline or taken it to the station.
He said the gun was not discovered until the police acting on information they had received arrested Powell and searched his home.

Acknowledging the impressive references submitted to the court on Powell’s behalf, the judge said he could not find any exceptional circumstances to depart from the statutory minimum. Justice Quin also noted that the primary intention of the firearm’s law is that sentencing must act as a deterrent to others and not just the individual offender.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    what a bright scholar lol! You could have destroy it or call the police! Oh well, sounds like he wanted the gun & that came with a gift attached to it also bobo lmao!

  2. Anonymous says:

    On the bright side, there’s a job opening at CUC

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am glad that this sort of story did not work on the judge and a proper sentence was handed down.  "Powell had held on to the weapon to keep it out of the hands of criminals."  Did the judge laugh out loud at that point?  Seriously, the attorney should do open mic night with material like that. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Keep in mind that not so long ago, the statutory minimum was an automatic 10 year sentence for guns or ammo, and was reduced under last Gov.  

  5. Anonymous says:

    JTW – Why did you say "take it up with your MLA"  They don't have anything to do with this matter..


    • Anonymous says:

      Prob because MLAs make the laws

    • Yup says:

      Pretty sure the people who make the laws made the law that requires 7 years for "finding a gun and forgetting to turn it in while remembering to threaten people with it and then tellin preposterous fables to judges".  Of course it's too late for this convict, as his ship has sailed (up onto 7 years of smokeing dope and partying in Northward, err, I mean jail), but if anyone doesn't like that law they should take it up with the people who make the laws.  

  6. Anonymous says:

    if he had issues with handing the gun in , he should have checked to make sure itwas not loaded flattened it with a sledge hammer and buried it to rust away , judges are familiar with all sort of stories , and if he threatenend some one with a gun he should have known he would be paid a visit in a hurry , itmay sound unfair but law is law .

  7. Anonymous says:

    No justice in Cayman.  I don't even know who this man is, but you have criminals out there and in Northward who continue to committ crimes while in Northward (public knowledge).  There are known criminals who were charged and convicted for a firearm (committing an offence) and their sentences have been reduced, this is for a gun charge and also an ongoing investigation for gun charges.  This man may it be stupid or not, but he didn't commit an offence with this weapon.  How come he gets 7 years and the known criminal gets a reduced sentence.  (Public knowledge)  

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s your problem you want to speak on who and what you don’t know. This individual is known to have guns(FACT). Known to have threatened violence (FACT). Has cause bodily harm to individuals (FACT). So the mere fact he was ONLY given the minimal sentence is bothersome. Because the situation isn’t as plane as a man finding a gun and not turning it in which was complete BS. He was NOT an asset to the Cayman Islands Society and is exactly where he needs to be.



      • Anonymous says:

        Cleary you can’t read, because it does state “has no previous convictions” above.

        • Young_Caymanian87 says:

          @22:41  – Although he does not have any convictions against him, that doesnt mean that reports werent filed.  There are many instances whereby there are domestic disputes whereby a party withdraws action but reports are left on file.

    • Anonymous says:

      he knew the risk of keeping a gun !!!  7 years is too short ..and…there had to be something else going on , otherwise there would not have been a police operation at his house !

  8. Anonymous says:

    Come on dude, we know you threatened a young man with the gun and that’s why the RCIPS came to your home to search.

    Fact of the matter is you do the crime you do the time. SIMPLE, PLAIN, & STRAIGHT. No exceptions.

    So this foolishness about how you found it and he has never been in trouble is irrelevant.


    • Anonymous says:

      Hopefully the police did have probable cause to search. A friend of mine was just arrested for a very small amount of "ganja" after the police let themselves into the house when nobody answered the door. The police were there to tell the occupant his car had been damaged. Apparently section 9 of the constitution isn't really worth the paper it's written on.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Seven years for posession of a gun without a licence? Remind me again what was the recent sentence given for the rape of a child or, the sentences given to those drunk drivers who killed innocent people?? Interesting. Very interesting. Makes you wonder.

  10. Anonymous says:

    He found the Gun in the Bushes, yeah sure you did (wink). That’s the defense he used… LMAO

    Glad people like him who appear to be productive citizens that live double, triple, and quadruple life’s are taken off the street. Because those of us who know you know that you are a drug dealer, woman beater, gun toting clown. Enjoy your 7 years at Northward.

    Good Job RCIPS, continue to clean up Cayman.


  11. JTB says:

    If you don’t like this decision, take it up with your MLA. The Judge’s hands were tied. The law is very clear.