St James businessman wins appeal against negligence conviction
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
St James businessman, Cheddi Creighton, has been freed by the Court of Appeal for a breach of the Firearms Act.
He was convicted in March this year of losing his licensed gun through negligence.
Evidence was given that he reported to the police on May 20, 2013 that he went home and found his home in Ironshore, St James broken into.
The court was also told that the firearm was removed from a bag in which it was kept.
The man had given an unsworn statement that he lived in a gated community which was well-secured.
However, the police testified that there was no safe in the house.
Resident Magistrate Wilson Smith subsequently found him guilty and fined him $80,000 or three months imprisoned.
The man paid the fine.
However, Creighton’s attorney, Peter Champagnie, later filed an appeal, challenging the grounds on which the magistrate arrived at the guilty verdict.
Champagnie outlined that the magistrate failed to address his mind to the unsworn statement that on the day in question, the firearm was secured and his client lived in a secure community.
He also argued that magistrate convicted the businessman on the sole basis that there was no safe in the house.
The lawyer also argued that his client's fingerprints were taken but not presented during the trial.
The Court of Appeal upheld Champagnie’s submissions, saying the convicted man was of good character and pointed to his involvement in various community activities including the police civil committee in St James.
The Court said it was obvious that the magistrate only paid attention to the fact that the gun was not in safe.
The Court said the magistrate gave no thought to the security arrangements of the premises.
It added that those circumstances should guided the magistrate's consideration of whether the man was negligent.
The Appeals Court quashed the conviction and set aside the sentence.
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