No bail for soldier accused of stealing handgun from armory

A Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Lance Corporal, accused of stealing an army-issued handgun, was remanded to prison yesterday.

Devon Harris, 34, a serving member of the GDF for at least 12 years, is accused of stealing an FN pistol, valued at $35,000 and property of the GDF. The theft occurred between December 27 and January 4.

It is also alleged that between December 27 and January 3, at Harris’ Friendship home, he had the pistol in his possession without being the owner of a gun licence.

Harris pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him by Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts complex.

According to Prosecutor Bharat Mangru, a physical check was conducted on the day in question and the firearm was discovered missing from the arms store. Investigations were carried out, he said, and the defendant was found with the firearm while he was not on duty. According to Mangru, off-duty officers are unauthorised to remove the firearms. He further stated that the accused is not a licensed firearm holder.

But according to Harris’ lawyer, his client has been working at the arms store at Base Camp Stephenson and would normally have possession of the firearm. He added that it had never been a problem before as it had always been known that Harris had the handgun. It is the culture of the arms store, he said, to allow officers to carry guns.

On the charge of theft, Mangru objected to bail based on the fact that the defence had presented no special reasons for the consideration of bail. For Harris’ second charge, Mangru once again objected to bail, citing the prevalence of the offence as his reason. He also opined that the defendant might not return to court due to the penalty attached to the offence.

However, Harris’ lawyer refuted the claims, saying that there is nothing to indicate that his client will flee the jurisdiction. Despite the lawyer’s request for reasonable bail, Harris was nonetheless remanded to prison until January 13, when he will make his next appearance  at the Providence Magistrate’s Court.

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