Cop’s gun seized at airport

| 02/01/2015

(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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  1. Anonymous says:

    He should have been arrested just like the guy who travelled from the states earlier last year with a bullet in his bag. He was arrested, taken to court and fined.
    For a law enforcement officer he knows better. Forgot? Yeah, right!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just try accidentally bringing a bullet in and see what you get, Caymanian or not…

    Appalling double standards. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    While we are on tis topic what about all those bottles of perfume lotion and other toilet articles that are taken from passengers? It is said that workers have a ball every so and then sharing them up. Oh and not to mention, but what really happens to little items such as small amounts of dried sorrel etc that one brings back from Jamaica? Does the Public ever see such items being destroyed? Some of these frivilous items that are being consfiscated are less than ignorance. Who is the person or persons responsible for making such policys. It is high time that the well paid Politicians take in their hands as we are totally controlled by these third world comers to our beautiful shores who has done nothing else but to ruin our Islands. We truly need to have more around like the Ozzies. Not a good subject for me . Enough said !!!

  4. Kadafe says:

    Personally when I travel my mind is always on the alert to make sure I don't have linguists over three ounces that will be taken away.. Or making sure to register my electronics with customs… How could one possibly have a gun and bullets in your carry on bag and not remember it right  until the security checkpoint? 

  5. Anonymous says:

    dah!!!  he is an officer and officers carry guns / so what the big deal???!!!

  6. Sweet sop says:

    Just goes to show that the laws are not the same for everyone. It's not "WHAT" you know, but  "WHO" you know. Come on RCIP and Customs you need to lead by example if you want to earn respect.

  7. UHUHUH says:

    Could it be that Mr. Marlon Bodden [a Caymanian] is doing too good a job in his capacity as head of the enforcement arm of air customs security, that certain individuals  who may feel that this job should be held by  someone from the mother country, or from some other jurisdiction.  

    Was this whole thing a set-up trying to make him look bad? Just had to ask! Because it is my opinion that there are those within the RCIPS that would love to have that post filled by some foreign national. Remember what happened with Mr. McFarlene  on the water front? From what I understand he is still not back on a permanent basis.

    But then again nothing surprises me anymore!  God help us all!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is ANY law actually enforced in this country?

  9. Anonymous says:

    The RCIPS are doing exactly the right thing – they have suspended his personal firearms licence, they are investigating then forwarding the file to the DPP's office for a decision whether to charge. If he is charged he will be tried/punished in due course.

    There was no need to arrest DI Burton as they know where he is, there is no risk of him absconding and he would have been immediately bailed anyway.  Nor does the public interest require him to be suspended for this.  Don't call out the lynch mob too quickly – he is a great cop who Cayman cannot afford to lose!

  10. Anonymous says:

    How can someone this dumb be given a firearm permit in the first place?!?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Everyone get a grip. I'd be perfectly happy with an additional armed policeman on any of my flights. Fine him the $500 like you do to tourists and be done with it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is just an extension of UK police policy of looking after their own.

    Two cases –

    SAS sniper Sergeant Danny Nightingale faced jail for being in possession of a Glock 9mm that had been returned to the UK without his permission or knowledge.

    At the same time a Hampshire police officer was caught in possession of a handgun that he had illegally kept at home for years after being presented with it while in the Royal Navy on overseas duty. He was dealt with by magistrates who did nothing when under current UK law he should have faced a mandatory five-year prison sentence simply for possession of the weapon with additional penalties for importing it. He's still serving.

    You'll never win with the police.





  13. Mr Westbayer says:

    If that was me i wouldve gotten 10 years flat

  14. Anonymous says:

    No surprise with this. I once stopped to assist a police officer who had a flat tyre. I commented that the tyre wasso smooth (with threads visible) that other drivers would have gotten a ticket for driving with defective tyre, or some similar traffic offence.

    He replied "do as I say, not as I do"!

    Three months to investigate this….that's laughable….if it wasn't so seroius.

    All while others are treated so harshly for the same offence.

  15. Anonymous says:

    WOW … shocking actually!

    • Anonymous says:

      Easy… ever carried a weapon full time? like leaving your wallet at home…..

      Not sure how long he was serving as an officer but you dont wak without your stick if you walk with it.. ok go head take you shots… but try and understand. 

    • Anonymous says:

      What kind of message are we sending…we arrest and charge a US Citizen (tourist) for forgetting their forearm in their luggage, yet an RCIPS gets card blanche???? Are we making a statement here?  Why wasn't he arrested and charged?  Just because you are a police officer doesn't give you the right to break the law, if anything you should know the law better then a civilian.  If he forgot his firearm was in his so called carry on and he forgot to drop it off at his so called friend who was on the list, I don't think he should be allowed a firearm!!!  I am curious what flight was he trying to get on?  Is he Caymanian? 

  16. Anonymous says:


    Responsible gun owners must know, at all times, the exact location and contion of their fire arms.

    Guns are serious stuff and must not be treated in a cavalier fashion.

    An officer of the law should and must know better; they must be held to a high standard of conduct.

    • Anonymous says:

      Arrest his ass like everyone else..he should have known of all people..he forgot…and we put a gun in his hand???? Another cover up I see…we ended the year with a slap on the wrist and here we go again….he is a police officer, he should know better. YOU DON"T FORGET THINGS LIKE THAT!!! So we charge and arrest tourists but a cop we don't? 

  17. Anonymous says:

    hmmm… Certainly if he was going to "drop off the gun AND ammunition with a named person on his licence for SAFE KEEPING", it would first be put in a locked pistol box. It's people like him that give responsible gun owners a bad name.

  18. Anonymous says:

    What a sad disconnect! HM Customs "made the decision, in consultation with RCIPS, that this matter is best dealt with administratively". The fact is, under our aviation security regulations, which are based on policies extended by the UK Department for Transport (in other words, we have no flexibility), ANY firearm presence in the Restricted Zones of our airports MUST be approved by The Governor UNLESS such firearms have been packed in checked luggage and DECLARED in writing to the airline of carriage. Whenever law enforcement agencies have operations which require firearms at, or passing through, the airports they MUST receive HE's written approval.

    Anything other that this process is a breach of aviation security regulations and MUST be investigated as such. The information provided in the CNS article indicates that this was such a breach. Perhaps the CIAA was never made aware of this incident but it is the pertinent authority in investigating such a case, not HM Customs or RCIPS.  Here we go again Baines, and we must continue to have faith in you and your RCIPS??!! Clowns running the circus!!!

    It is illegal and quite concerning if CIAA was not made aware of this matter; all the more so if they relinquished control of the investivation to the other two agencies mentioned.

  19. Sir Henry Morgan says:

    Just another display of the RCIPS' incompetence.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Embarrassing! Curious to see if the Compass will fire out their editorials criticizing them like they did Ozzie! If there is a double standard between RCIP and law abiding citizens, then why think the case with Cayman Gov would be any different.


    Speaks to the competency of this guy and his level of awareness. If something as serious as that in his control can go undetected what makes him any better at detecting and preventing rampant criminality I ask.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with everything except the Ozzie part. As a minister of Cabinet and one of the leaders of this country, Ozzie should have respected his high position, his office, his staff, the school intern,  his chief officer (for doing her job) and behaved accordingly. The Cayman Compass is not to blame for Ozzie's atrocious behaviour. 

  21. Anonymous says:

    Good job Baines, another strike out!

  22. Anonymous says:

    How would Baines have reacted to an Caymanian beingcaught with gun and ammunition?  Any comments.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep here is one for you.  This gentleman was originally from Jamaica but he is now from here.  A naturalised Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      Baines would have done his job like he always does.  You would still blame him like you always do.  The guilty person would have a great chance of escaping responsibility like they usually do here in the Cayman islands.

  23. Anonymous says:

    How does one forget a gun in the carryon? Why would one put a gun in the carryon if the plan was to drop it at a friend's? This story makes no sense or the cop is plain stupid. 

    • Expat Andy says:

      Maybe both!

    • Anonymous says:

      to post 14:58 I think you answered your own question lol

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, he should have put it somewhere that he wouldn't forget it.  Normally, you put things where you plan on leaving it.  He should have had it in a lock box.  I always put my lists on the passenger seat next to me so I don't forget things or items.