A serving rank of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was yesterday arraigned at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court for allegedly swiping one of the force’s guns from the Arms Store at Camp Stephenson, Timehri.
Lance Corporal 19553 Devon Harris, 34, pleaded not guilty to the charges of Larceny by Public Officer and Possession of Firearm which were read to him by the Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.
The police claimed that the between December 27, 2013 and January 4, 2014 at Base Camp Stephenson, Timehri while being employed with the Force he stole one Fabric National Pistol #75C61408 which costs $35,000.
The prosecution alleged too that during the same period of time, at Friendship, East Bank Demerara, the rank had in his possession the said gun whilst he was not the owner of a firearm licence.
However, Harris refuted both claims and submitted an application for reasonable or conditional bail through his lawyer, Patrice Henry.
The Attorney related that his client has been a serving rank for over 12 years and at the time of the alleged crime, he was one of the Arms store employees. He explained that from the time he had been working at the Arms store, the weapon has always been in his possession and added that there are records which could validate his claim.
In furthering his bail application, the lawyer said that Harris would have no difficulty in attending court.
Meanwhile, the prosecution team led by Corporal Bharat Mangru stated that on the day in question, a check was conducted on the Arms store which unearthed that the firearm was missing.
Mangru related that investigations were conducted and Lance Corporal Harris was found with the firearm at his premises. He emphasised that the accused was not authorized to have a firearm since he was off duty at the time of its discovery.
The prosecution challenged Henry’s bail application and urged the court to note that while the Defence Attorney had offered the court reasons, those were not special reasons with regards to the offence.
He said too that even though there are other ranks attached to the Arms store, it was at the home of Lance Corporal Harris, in Friendship, that the firearm was uncovered.
Mangru continued his objections with regards to the charge of Larceny by Officer, claiming that the prevalence of these kinds of offences and the penalty attached to same are substantial grounds for Harris to be ordered held.
The prosecution also opined that should he be granted pre-trial liberty, he would flee the jurisdiction so as to avoid facing the charges pressed against him.
However, Henry interjected with further requests of his own. He claimed that it was pertinent for the court to understand that that was the culture of the Arms store and the Guyana Defence Force. The lawyer thereby made a request for the file to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further advice.
The Chief Magistrate indicated that the court would not heed to the bail application and remanded the Lance Corporal to jail until January 13. The matter was transferred and is set to be called before Magistrate Leron Daly at the Providence Magistrate’s Court.
She advised Henry that he is free to appeal to the Supreme Court of Judicature for bail if he is not content with her ruling. Magistrate Sewnarine-Beharry also approved of the lawyer’s request for the file to be sent for the perusal of the DPP.
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