The unlawful possession of arms and ammunition case against accused drug trafficker, Terrence Sugrim, was discharged at the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrate’s Court yesterday due to police witnesses not turning up.
After the matter was called on several occasions with no police witness present, Magistrate Fazil Azeez, yesterday discharged the case against Sugrim, who was present in court, stating that the witnesses have not turned up on numerous occasions despite being informed.
Sugrim, 43, of Lot 91 Parfait-Harmonie, West Bank Demerara, who also goes by the name Roy Alvarez as well as several other aliases was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of arms and ammunition.
It was alleged that on June 28, 2007 at Lot 91 Parfait Harmonie, he had in his possession two firearms, that is to say, one .32 Taurus Pistol (serial number FUH 83964) and a .32 Walther Pistol number 452067 without being the holder of a firearm licence. It was also alleged that on the same date and place, he had in his possession 75 rounds of .32 ammunition and 85 12-gauge cartridges without being the holder of a firearm licence.
He had pleaded not guilty to both charges when he had earlier appeared before Principal Magistrate Melissa Robertson and had been granted bail in the sum of $1M.
This newspaper was informed yesterday that among the police witnesses not turning up was the main witness, Detective Sergeant Mitchell Baron. Stabroek News was told that Baron had left the Guyana Police Force some time ago and is “out of the jurisdiction”. The success of the case is said to have hinged upon his testimony but he never gave evidence in Sugrim’s matter.
Sugrim had previously shared the charges with his reputed wife, Michelle Davis but they were withdrawn against him and she had faced them alone. However, he was later charged again for the same offences.
Sugrim was wanted by United States authorities to face trial for allegedly conspiring to traffic in narcotics. He had been arrested in a police operation and an extradition hearing was held. Following the hearing at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton had committed him into custody to await extradition to the US to face trial for allegedly conspiring to traffic in narcotics.
However, on April 17 last year, Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr. released Sugrim on $1M bail in the High Court following a habeas corpus application by his legal team. Stemming from the application filed by Sugrim’s legal team, Justice Singh found that many factual errors were made by the magistrate during the hearing and they were serious enough transgressions to render her rulings in relation to the committal unlawful and unfair. Bail was granted in the sum of $1M.
Shortly after his release, police had rearrested him and slapped him with the charges of illegal possession of guns and ammunition and he was then taken to the Principal Magistrate, where he was granted bail.
Sugrim’s matter was heard at the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrate’s Court while Davis’ matter is ongoing at the Wales Magistrate’s court. She also faces a charge of harbouring a wanted man, Sugrim.
Baron, who was attached to the Narcotics Branch, had previously given evidence at Davis’s trial. He had told the court that on June 28 as a result of information received, he accompanied a party of police from the narcotics branch headed by Senior Superintendent Crawford and which included Sergeant McCoy to a house at Lot 91 Parfait Harmonie at about 18:15 hours.
He had said that upon arrival at the house, he saw Davis standing in the yard. He had recalled that Crawford identified them as the police and asked her to open the gate, which was locked. He asserted that Davis turned and began walking in a southerly direction and then ran up the southern steps.
He stated that he had become suspicious and along with McCoy entered the yard and he followed her, while McCoy went in a western direction. He said that he ran up the steps and entered through the unlocked door. “I looked into the house and I saw the defendant along with a male coming out of a washroom area”, he had said noting that he identified himself to them by means of his police identification card and then asked Davis to open the western door which she did and McCoy, Crawford and two other ranks entered.
Baron had said that he then told Davis and the male that he had reason to suspect that “they have something unlawful on the premises”, and requested to search. He said that he was assisted by McCoy and the two ranks. He stated that during the search, he found in the attic in the washroom area a whitish bag, which he examined in the presence of McCoy, and observed that the bag contained a quantity of ammunition and what appeared to be two firearms.
“I then showed the contents to this defendant. I then asked her in the presence of Sergeant McCoy, who the arms and ammunition belongs to. She said to me in the presence of Sergeant McCoy, ‘I don’t know anything about that’. I then asked the male person who the arms and ammunition belongs to. He said to me in the presence of the defendant and Sergeant McCoy, the arms and ammunition belongs to him and he put them up there without the defendant knowing”, he had stated.
Baron had said that he asked Davis and the male if they had firearm license and they replied that they did not. He had stated that he then informed them that they were in possession of firearm and ammunition without license and cautioned them separately and Davis remained silent.
He had declared that he kept possession of the arms and ammunition in the whitish bag and on conclusion of the search; he arrested Davis and assisted in escorting her along with the male to Narcotics Branch, Eve Leary along with the bag with the arms and ammunition.
Meantime, testifying at Sugrim’s extradition hearing was Assistant Superintendent of Police, Norris Riddle, who told the court that on June 28, 2007, he along with a party of policemen and a woman went to Lot 91 Parfait, where they found Sugrim and arrested him. Riddle had told the court that he told Sugrim why he was there and that the man responded that his name was Raul Lucas.
Riddle had said that he cautioned him and Sugrim replied “It does not have to happen this way. I will make all of you alright for the rest of your lives”. Riddle had testified that neither he nor anyone else made any threats to Sugrim and stated that Sugrim later produced a Guyana driver’s licence with the name Lucas and he took possession of the photo and when he compared it to the photo he had at headquarters, he saw the same person.