Re-migrant farmer charged after importing unlicensed shotgun

Re-migrant farmer Compton Paul, 69, was yesterday remanded to prison on the accusation that he imported a shotgun without being the holder of a requisite licence.

New Amsterdam resident Paul was charged after a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun that he shipped into the country was found in a barrel by a customs officer on December 13 at Georgetown.  Paul pleaded not guilty to the charge of unlicensed firearm possession when it was read to him by acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.

Prosecutor Stephen Telford told the court that the farmer had turned up at the Muneshwers Wharf to clear the barrel in which he had shipped the gun when it was uncovered by a customs officer that he had no licence for the item.

However, in a bail application, Paul’s lawyer noted he is a licensed firearm holder in both Guyana and Canada, where he recently travelled. Before returning from Canada, the lawyer explained, Paul bought a gun and shipped it to Guyana with the hope that since he was licensed here he would have been able to acquire the necessary documentation for the weapon from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police.

However, Telford stated that Paul needed to understand that “ignorance to the law is no excuse.” He stressed that Paul should have made it his duty to ensure that he was in no breach of the law before posting the weapon to Guyana. While acknowledging that Paul was indeed a licensed firearm holder as provided for by the laws of Guyana, Telford pointed out that the particular “gun in question” was not covered by a granted licence here. He noted that in Guyana, Paul has licence for a single barrel 12-gauge shotgun, while the imported weapon is a pump-action shotgun. He emphasized that while Paul was also licensed by the Canadian government to carry the weapon, the fact that it was not licensed as provided for by the laws of Guyana resulted in the offence.

Telford asked that bail be refused since the offence is a serious and prevalent one. Paul was subsequently remanded to prison until December 17, when the case is to be called at Court Five.