By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
AXED Free National Movement Senator John Bostwick II has been called on to “give a defence or remain silent” by a magistrate who determined yesterday that he does have a case to answer concerning the alleged discovery of 10 rounds of ammunition in a backpack at the Grand Bahama International Airport.
Magistrate Andrew Forbes had required time to consider extensive legal submissions of prosecution and counsel for the accused, heard in July, stemming from testimony into the discovery of 10 live rounds of .22 ammunition, allegedly found in Bostwick’s luggage on May 17, 2014.
“The court is satisfied that the prosecution had adduced a prima facie (based on the first impression) case and as such rejects the submissions made to dismiss,” the magistrate ruled, adding, “this court invites the defendant to present a defence.”
Bostwick II also has the right to remain silent as the burden, in law, lies with the Crown to prove that he is guilty of the charge of possession of ammunition.
His lawyer, Elliot Lockhart, QC, requested time for his legal team to consider the magistrate’s ruling and to indicate whether Bostwick II will elect to give a statement or remain silent.
The matter is substantially set for November 2.
Airport security allegedly discovered a quantity of ammunition in the former senator’s luggage during a check while in the domestic section of the Grand Bahama International Airport.
Mr Lockhart and attorney Lisa Bostwick-Dean, at July’s hearing, argued that the prosecution had not established a proper chain of custody for the items they claimed were found in their client’s possession.
The argument was made regarding the report of firearms examiner Inspector Aaron Wilson who received the items from a police officer who had not given evidence in the trial.
Mrs Bostwick-Dean produced a chart for the court’s viewing to illustrate the chain of custody, based on the evidence given, that began with Corporal Latoya Major-Rolle of the Central Detective Unit.
Mr Lockhart also argued that Inspector Wilson’s testing of two of 10 bullets did not legally establish that the bullets were, in fact, ammunition.
Supt Ercell Dorsett, police prosecutor, responded that the chain of custody for the magazine clip and bullets had actually been established by Corporal Jenika Arthur, who made the initial discovery.
Supt Dorsett said without Cpl Arthur, the prosecution could not have brought the charge.
The prosecutor, in dismissing the second argument from lawyers for the accused, countered that Insp Wilson had determined that the bullets were, in fact, ammunition because they were tested with a pistol of like calibre.
Magistrate Forbes, yesterday, dismissed the ground that a chain of custody had not been established because a witness involved in the handling of the items had not given evidence.
He cited the 2013 Court of Appeal decision of Tito Davis and others where that issue is addressed.
“The facts in this case is that when the defendant presented himself to the security area of the Grand Bahama Airport, the now confirmed ammunition were discovered in a backpack in the custody of the defendant,” the magistrate said.
“Thus the element of custody and control of a thing is met. The singular question is whether there is knowledge of the thing?
“According to the defendant, he indicates that he was unaware of the ammunition in his bag and offers the possibility that the items could have been placed there without his knowledge and consent. He further implies that this may have occurred when he left the bag in the trunk of the rental car when at the Our Lucaya Hotel upon his entering to attend a wedding,” the magistrate added.
“What the court observed was in fact the defendant entering the hotel with said bag and was seen leaving the hotel again with the bag, this observation directly conflict statements made by the defendant,” the judge said.
Bostwick II has maintained his innocence of the allegation.