Patrick Powell verdict July 11
The attorney for businessman Patrick Powell argued yesterday that her client invoked his constitutional right to silence when he ignored three requests from the police to hand over his licensed Glock pistol for inspection, but this assertion has been dismissed by prosecutors as meritless.
Deborah Martin, the attorney representing Powell, and lead prosecutor Yanique Gardener Brown were delivering their closing arguments in Powell's trial for a breach of the Firearms Act.
Presiding judge Vaughn Smith has set July 11 as the day when he will deliver his verdict. According to prosecutors, the offence carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison or a fine of $300,000.
Martin noted that her client was a suspect in the killing of Kingston College student Khajeel Mais and was in the custody of the police when Superintendent Clive Walker asked him three times for his firearm.
Declaring that Walker "acted quite inappropriately", Martin argued that the police do not have the authority to take any action, in the pursuit of their duties, that would abrogate or abridge the rights of citizens.
"His decision to remain silent accords with his rights when he is in a situation where he is in custody as a suspect. He acted in good cause in accordance with the very rights the police officers told him he had," she insisted.
But Gardener Brown, who is also an assistant director of public prosecutions, dismissed this assertion, arguing that an individual first has to be charged with an offence before he can invoke that constitutional right.
"There is no material before this court that Mr Powell was charged with any offence [on the day he was asked to hand over his weapon]," she underscored.
If that argument is to be accepted, the prosecutor said, "then we would be promoting anarchy" as other citizens facing criminal charges could make the same claim.
But Martin insisted that the issue to be determined by the trial is whether Powell should be "punished" for failing to assist the police in the investigations against him, a reference to the Mais probe. "Which law should be supreme? Which is it that must prevail, the Constitution or the Firearms Act?" she questioned.
However, Gardener Brown argued that persons who opt to obtain a firearm licence should be prepared to abide by the rigours of the Firearms Act and suggested that the legislation does not authorise the police to have a reason for requesting the weapon.