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Rev Al on gun charge - Clergyman in trouble for his missing licensed firearm

Published:Sunday | February 6, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Al Miller

Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator

NEARLY EIGHT months after he was charged with perverting the course of justice and harbouring a fugitive, head of the Fellowship Tabernacle Church, the Reverend Al Miller, is in trouble again with the police.

"This time he has been charged in connection with the disappearance of his licensed firearm," a senior member of the Criminal Investigation Branch confirmed on Friday.

The officer's statement was further confirmed by a member of the St Andrew North Police Division, who spoke with The Sunday Gleaner on terms of anonymity.

"He is scheduled to appear before the court this week," the member of the St Andrew North Police Division told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

While the police remained tight-lipped about the details of the incident, it is alleged that about two weeks ago, in the Shortwood Road area of St Andrew, the well-known pastor parked his vehicle, and on his return, discovered that a pouch with his firearm was missing.

"I was standing just metres away from the vehicle when it happened," Miller told The Sunday Gleaner. He subsequently reported the theft to the police.

He has been a licensed firearm holder from the early 1990s, he said.

It was necessary at that time to have a firearm because of the nature of the family business in which he was involved.

"We were into heavy business - gas stations and auto parts business - so security was important," Miller said.

harbouring a fugitive

Miller was arrested last June after he was found in a car in the company of then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine. Coke had been on the run after an arrest warrant was issued for him in relation to an extradition request from the United States. Miller was charged with harbouring a fugitive. That trial is scheduled to get under way on February 16.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force weekly crime statistics posted last week disclosed that since the start of the year, at least four licensed firearms - three pistols and a revolver - had been reported stolen. This is two fewer than the number reported stolen in the corresponding period last year.

Section 41 (a) of the Firearms Act says: "Any person who, being the holder of a licence, certificate or permit in respect of a firearm, losing such firearm through negligence on his part shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine of $100,000, with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding 12 months."

During a brief interview with The Sunday Gleaner on Friday, chairman of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), Errol Strong, disclosed that a prominent journalist and several so-called businessmen and contractors were among 19 licensed firearm holders who had their licences revoked last year.

"The list includes persons whom we considered a threat to public safety. There were also persons who we found negligent in protecting their firearms, plus others who were involved in the improper use of their weapons," Strong said.

"We are currently probing at least 30 cases. These are applicants who, when they had applied, claimed they were legitimate businessmen, but there is no evidence to corroborate their claim," the FLA chairman stressed.