Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Probe deepens: Police step up investigations in massive ammo find

Published:Saturday | February 6, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

The police High Command is still searching for answers to several questions as it continues to probe the massive gun and ammunition find on Munster Road in eastern St Andrew on Thursday.

But even as the investigators seek answers, acting Commissioner Owen Ellington is threatening tough action against members of the police force involved in the suspected theft of guns and ammunition from the armoury.

A police sergeant has already been arrested in connection with the seizure, and even though Ellington is yet to confirm that the 19 guns and almost 11,000 rounds of ammunition were from the police armoury, he is preparing to act.

"Our investigations are being conducted with a view to taking criminal action where it is appropriate, and serious departmental action where that is appropriate," Ellington told journalists at a media briefing yesterday.

security breached

The acting commissioner defended the security arrangements at the armoury even as he accepted that dishonest persons could have breached the system.

"The security procedures at the armoury and stores are adequate for the guidance of honest and responsible people. What is appearing is that there was a breach of trust and there was a severe lapse in terms of attention to duty."

But Ellington was unable to provide the country with any assurance that the 19 guns, almost 11,000 rounds of ammunition and several bullet-proof vests seized so far were all that had been stolen.

"We will commence an audit as soon as the forensic experts are finished with the stores, but we would never be in any position to attempt to answer any such question before that is done," said Ellington.

He had called the briefing to provide an update on the gun and ammunition find.

no new info

However, it was clear that there was not much more that the commission could add to what had been said on Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the find.

What Ellington could say was that of the 11 persons arrested in connection with the find, four women and three men had been released.

Still in custody up to yesterday were a police sergeant, the owner of the house on Munster Road, and two civilians attached to the police armoury.

Ellington also used the opportunity to reject claims that more than 19 guns had been found and that the police were involved in a cover-up.

dispelling rumours

"I would, at this stage, dispel rumours that have been circulating in the media that the actual gun find was 60. It is not 60, it's 19. Every aspect of the operation was recorded by our scene-of-crime expert under the watchful eye of people from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Anti-Corruption Branch and the Major Investigations Task Force," Ellington declared.

The acting commissioner also announced that the armoury remained under lockdown as it was being preserved as a crime scene, with an audit to be conducted after a forensic investigation was done.

"The armoury was audited as recently as last year. It is a regular occurrence in our management of weapons and stores," said Ellington.

He also announced that the police had seized $787,000 from the house on Munster Road in eastern St Andrew where the guns and ammunition were found.

11,000 rounds of ammunition and several bullet-proof vests seized so far were all that had been stolen.

"We will commence an audit as soon as the forensic experts are finished with the stores, but we would never be in any position to attempt to answer any such question before that is done," said Ellington.

He had called the briefing to provide an update on the gun and ammunition find.

However, it was clear that there was not much more that the commissioner could add to what had been said on Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the find.

What Ellington could say was that of the 11 persons arrested in connection with the find, four women and three men had been released.

Still in custody up to yesterday were a police sergeant, the owner of the house on Munster Road, and two civilians attached to the police armoury.

dispelling rumours

Ellington also used the opportunity to reject claims that more than 19 guns had been found and that the police were involved in a cover-up.

"I would, at this stage, dispel rumours that have been circulating in the media that the actual gun find was 60. It is not 60, it's 19. Every aspect of the operation was recorded by our scene-of-crime expert under the watchful eye of people from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Anti-Corruption Branch and the Major Investigations Task Force," Ellington declared.

The acting commissioner also announced that the armoury remained under lockdown as it was being preserved as a crime scene, with an audit to be conducted after a forensic investigation was done.

"The armoury was audited as recently as last year. It is a regular occurrence in our management of weapons and stores," said Ellington.

He also announced that the police had seized $787,000 from the house on Munster Road in eastern St Andrew where the guns and ammunition were found.