A Grand Bay man has been denied bail and is now remanded in custody at the Dominica State Prison after the police brought several charges against him for the importation and trafficking of firearms and ammunition.
On February 3, 2022, at the Woodbridge Bay Port in Fond Cole, fifteen firearms, 12 magazines and 964 live rounds of ammunition hidden in several items in a cargo container on the port were recovered by members of the Customs and Excise division during a routine check at the Port.
Jade Stewart of Lalay Grand Bay has since been slapped with several charges and appeared before Magistrate Gloria Augustus Thursday February 10, 2022, where the charges were read to him.
It is alleged that on February 3, 2022, at the Woodbridge Bay Port in Fond Cole, Stewart engaged in the unlawful trafficking of 15 firearms and 964 rounds of ammunition.
He was not required to enter a plea since the offence is an indictable one.
The police preferred 15 charges of importation of the said firearms and three charges of importation of the several rounds of ammunition into Dominica against the accused as he is not the holder of a firearms import license.
Stewart elected to have a summary trial for the importation charges at the magistrate’s court and pleaded not guilty to the offenses.
At the hearing, Police Prosecutor Inspector Davidson Cadette, objected to bail based on the Bail Act number 20 of 2020, citing section 4 subsection 3 for his reason.
According to Cadette, based on this section of the law, the accused is not entitled to bail as a right and added that this is further strengthened by section 7:1 (D) under the firearm act.
Inspector Cadette further posited, given the prevalence of firearms and ammunition offenses in Dominica in recent times, there is grave public interest in this matter.
He further argued that due to the serious nature of the offense and the penalty which will be applied if the defendant is found guilty, Stewart poses as a flight risk and may attempt to abscond justice.
The police prosecutor also pleaded with the court to deny bail on the ground that the police are conducting a parallel investigation against Stewart and fears that he may interfere with documentary evidence and witnesses if released.
In a brief response to the prosecution’s objection, attorney-at-law Zena Dyer of the law firm of Dyer & Dyer, argued that the prosecution had failed to give any grounds in accordance with the bail act to establish that bail should be withheld from her client, and as such she said bail should be granted.
However, in handing down her decision, Magistrate Augustus said based on the argument of the prosecution, she had agreed to the grounds put forward and denied bail to the accused.
Dyer immediately indicated her intention to move to the High Court to seek bail for her client and requested from the Magistrate, based on section 14 (1) of the Bail Act, her reason in writing for her denial of bail to proceed.
The matter was adjourned to June 17, 2022.
Meanwhile, Kent Thomas Mitchell of Bellevue Chopin was also charged with trafficking and importation of ammunition.
According to the charges preferred, it is alleged that on February 7, 2022, at the Woodbridge Bay Port in Fond Cole, Mitchell engaged in the unlawful trafficking of 150 9mm live rounds of ammunition.
He was not required to enter a plea for this charge since it is an indictable offense.
For the second charge of importation of 150 9mm live rounds of ammunition, Mitchell opted for a summary trial in the magistrate court and pleaded guilty to the charge.
Presiding Magistrate Augusutus adjourned the matter to February 11, 2022, for facts and sentencing.
The prosecution then made an application pursuant to section 212 of the Magistrate Code of Procedure to have the accused placed in the custody of the investigating officer until his return to court.
Mitchell is represented by attorney-at-law Wayne Norde.