The Guyana Defence Force officer and three other men held on Saturday with illegal guns and ammunition were yesterday faced with charges.
It was alleged that Lance Corporal Aaron Eastman, 27, Mark Anthony, 22, Andrew Davis-Escott, 25 and Brian Escott, 27, were carrying an unlicensed sawn-off pump action shotgun with matching rounds and an unlicensed .32 revolver with matching rounds, on December 5th, at Robb Street.
They were charged with having both the weapons and ammunition without being the holder of firearm licences. The men pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mark Waldron, the attorney representing Eastman, told the court that his client had been the driver of the vehicle where the bag containing the guns and ammunition were found. He submitted that fingerprint samples were taken and there is no evidence to suggest that the guns and ammunition were ever in his client’s possession.
Eastman, of 148 Grove Housing Scheme, is a father of two and has served the GDF for the past ten years.
According to attorney Adrian Thompson, who appeared for Andrew Davis-Escott, of Lot 6 West Ruimveldt, the defendant was merely a passenger in the vehicle at the time the articles were found. The attorney also reiterated Waldron’s defence that fingerprints were taken from the accused and were not found to be a match. The prosecution later stated that Escott was positively identified by three persons during an ID parade.
Thompson urged the court to take into consideration that several persons were in the vehicle at the time of the find and that the police have no material evidence linking the accused to the firearms and ammunition as special reasons for bail to be granted.
Brian Escott’s attorney, Peter Hugh, related that his client had one previous conviction for armed robbery, for which he served five years in jail, but no other pending matters before the court. He stated that the defendant was merely a passenger in the vehicle at that time and does not accept knowledge or possession of the articles in question and that the prosecution has no evidence to dispute the claim. Escott, of 155 Middle Road, La Penitence, is a father of two and occupied as a mason.
Anthony, a Route 41 conductor from Canje Pheasant Lane, South Ruimveldt Park, was unrepresented in the matter but denied being in the car with the other defendants.
Prosecutor Deniro Jones objected to bail being granted on the grounds that no special reasons existed. He related that on the day in question, concerned citizens had seen the four defendants acting suspiciously and summoned the police, who came and found Eastman in the driver’s seat wearing a black hoodie.
Jones went on to state that a search was conducted and a .32 revolver with matching rounds as well and a 12-gauge shotgun with matching cartridges were recovered under the front passenger seat and driver’s seat, respectively.
The prosecution then confirmed the attorneys’ claim that fingerprint analyses were done but stated that the results of those tests are not yet available.
Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan denied bail to all four defendants, citing the need for public safety, and she adjourned the matter to January 6th, when it will be heard before Magistrate Judy Latchman in Court 3.
At about 10.30 am on Saturday, police ranks had stopped the men’s vehicle, which they said was fitted with “obscure number plates,” at Regent Street and Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown. They then conducted a search during which the guns and ammo were found.
The interception was made as part of the recently launched Joint Services operation—dubbed “Operation Dragnet”—which is aimed at enhancing national security.