By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
WITNESSES who testified yesterday of their involvement in the ammunition case of former Senator John Bostwick Jr denied ever receiving complaints of bag tampering during screenings at the Grand Bahama International Airport.
The tampering suggestion was made by lawyer Elliot Lockhart, QC, to three of the five witnesses who gave evidence in the case of John Bostwick Jr, charged with possession of 10 live rounds of .22 ammunition, allegedly found in his luggage on May 17, 2014.
On the day in question, airport security allegedly discovered a quantity of ammunition in his luggage during a check while in the domestic section of the Grand Bahama International Airport.
Police were contacted, and upon discovery of the ammunition, the then senator was taken into custody and flown to Nassau where he was held at the Central Detective Unit before being arraigned in Magistrate’s Court.
His trial was initially set for September 2014, but was adjourned on multiple occasions up to April 7 when Magistrate Andrew Forbes said he might discharge the former senator if prosecutors failed to proceed with trial at the next hearing on June 8.
In yesterday’s proceedings, police prosecutor Superintendent Ercell Dorsett called on firearms examiner Inspector Aaron Wilson.
The witness said on May 21, 2014, he was handed a sealed brown cardboard box containing a detachable magazine and another box containing 10 unfired rifle calibre cartridges.
Corporal Warren Bethel, of the Firearms Licensing Unit, said that six weeks ago, on April 22, he examined records between 1969 and April 22, 2015 to ascertain whether the named defendant was issued a firearms certificate to possess ammunition.
This, he said, concluded his involvement in the matter.
When questioned by Mr Lockhart, the corporal said he did find a record of the name “John Bostwick”, but it was in relation to the defendant’s father, John Bostwick Sr.
Sophia McPhee-Timothy was called to the stand next. The security officer and screener testified that she was at work around 7.20pm on the evening shift of May 17, 2014 and observed a gentleman and his family walking to the screening area.
She then observed a dark coloured bag, placed on the conveyor belt by the gentleman, containing what appeared to be a magazine clip with ammunition.
“I called for a bag search,” Ms Timothy said, noting that her colleague Sherice Buchanan did this.
“Did you know the gentleman?” Supt Ercell Dorsett asked.
“No, sir,” the witness said.
“Where was he when you called for the search?” the prosecutor asked.
“He was right there preparing to go through the screen,” the witness said.
Ms Timothy said a re-screening of the bag was done and “the item what appeared to be a magazine clip with ammunition was clearly seen.”
The screening officer said police were then contacted and the gentleman, whom she saw in court, was handed over to police.
The officer said there was an hour time lapse between the discovery and the gentleman being taken into custody.
In cross-examination, Mr Lockhart asked the security officer if she had “ever experienced anyone complaining of their bags being accessed while they were going through screening.”
“You mean being tampered with? No, sir,” the witness said.
“Were any of the zippers of the bag opened when you searched the bag?” the lawyer asked.
“No they were closed,” the screener said.
“The gentleman who put the bag on the (conveyor) belt was in no way apprehensive?” the lawyer asked.
“No, he wasn’t,” the witness said.
Mr Lockhart suggested to the witnesses that other persons were not stopped or screened on the evening in question.
“You’re wrong,” the witness said.
“You accept this was all being recorded?” the lawyer asked.
“It should be…there are cameras in the screening area,” the witness said.
When asked if she remained in her station throughout the search, Ms Timothy said her job was to focus on the screening monitor before her.
“I cannot move left or right,” she added.
She was asked if she knew Bernard Hepburn to which she replied “yes”. She denied giving the bag to him and that he searched the bag.
Another witness Corporal Lincoln Dawkins said that on the day in question, “I received certain information from the police control room and as a result, I proceeded to the Grand Bahama Airport domestic side.”
Upon arrival, he received information from two women colleagues and “as a result, I collected a black back-pack and a magazine.”
“I dusted the magazine for fingerprints,” the officer noted, further adding that he initialled and photographed the items.
In cross-examination, Mr Lockhart asked the witness if he accepted his suggestion that “there’s a portion of the bag which cannot be closed.”
“Yes,” Cpl Dawkins answered.
“It’s damaged?” Mr Lockhart asked.
“It appears to be,” the officer answered.
“And you cannot say where the items were found?” the lawyer asked. Mr Dawkins said he could not.
“You found no fingerprints on the magazine?” Mr Lockhart further asked. Mr Dawkins said he did not.
Mr Lockhart asked the officer if he had ever received complaints from individuals of their bags being accessed at screening. Mr Dawkins said he did not in his 15 years on the police force.
The fifth witness, Corporal Jenika Arthur, said that on the day in question, she was on patrol at the front terminal of the Grand Bahama Airport.
“I was notified that I was needed at the security checkpoint,” the officer said.
“I went to find out what the matter was about. I was met by Sophia Timothy who pointed out to me an image of what appeared to be a firearm clip.”
The witness said she asked the passenger if he owned the bag and he replied in the affirmative. When she asked him his name, he gave her his passport, which she said bore the name John Henry Bostwick.
“Did you know Mr Bostwick prior to this?” the prosecutor asked.
“Personally? No, sir,” the officer said before continuing her testimony that she “informed him of the object seen on the scanner and told him I wanted to do a search.”
“I searched the bag and discovered a dark coloured magazine. That’s when I cautioned and arrested him,” the officer added.
“Did he say anything to you?” the prosecutor asked.
“He only said he wanted to use the bathroom,” the officer replied.
When shown the backpack in question, Ms Arthur said the magazine clip was found in the front pocket of the backpack.