Berbice cop maintains he found illegal gun and was going to lodge it

– to call two witnesses

Police Constable Tito Benons, who was charged in April with unlicensed firearm possession, led his defence yesterday at a city court, where he maintained that he was on his way to the police station to lodge the firearm when he was intercepted by police.

Benons, who is attached to the Anti-Crime Unit in Berbice, was charged with having in his possession a Smith and Wesson 9 mm pistol and 15 rounds of matching ammunition, on March 26, at Norton Street and Louisa Row.

The rank, who is unrepresented, has been on remand since his arraignment.

The prosecution yesterday closed its case, and a few hours later, it was decided by Magistrate Fabayo Azore that there was enough evidence against Benons for him to be called to lead his defence.

The officer, choosing to deliver sworn testimony, entered the witness box, where he recalled the events of March 26.

The defendant stated that he, along with his cousin and friends of his cousin, were riding north on Cemetery Road on motorcycles, caught up in heavy traffic. He related that as they approached the cemetery gate, he noticed a dark object lying at the western side of the road, and he, being the pillion rider, told his companion to stop, after which he walked back to the object, which appeared to be a firearm.

He said he showed it to the friend and indicated to him that it was “a real gun,” and as they were on their way to Police Headquarters, Eve Leary at the time, they would make a stop at the Brickdam Police Station.

However, while riding along Louisa Row, they met an officer he identified only as Constable George, who was with three other ranks. The motorcyclists were reportedly pulled over for their lack of helmets.

Benons said he came off the motorbike and identified himself as a police rank stationed in Berbice and attached to the Anti-Crime Patrol Unit. He further related that he told the officers he had found a firearm and was taking it to the Brickdam Police Station to be lodged.

The defendant said George then requested to see the gun and when it was handed to him, he removed it from the holster and examined it. George then allegedly pulled his firearm from his pocket and pushing the defendant away, stated, ‘Boy, you’s not no police. I don’t want to hear anything.’

According to Benons, he tried explaining the situation but to no avail. The five men were then subjected to a search, following which five ranks from the Anti-Crime Patrol came, including a woman officer, who allegedly indicated to George that Benons was a police officer stationed in Berbice. He related that other ranks echoed same, but their comments were dismissed.

Benons indicated that he was taken to the Brickdam Police Station in a separate vehicle from his colleagues, and once there, investigations were done to determine whether he was in fact a police officer.

He said he later found out the firearm he discovered was accompanied by 15 matching rounds, and related that he had not been in contact with any firearms since he proceeded on leave on February 19.

The matter has been adjourned to tomorrow for cross-examination. Benons has indicated to the court that he has two witnesses to call on his behalf.

At Benons’ arraignment, the prosecution mentioned that the defendant, in his statement, had claimed that he was riding when he saw an object and picked it up and was on his way to Brickdam but changed course and was heading to Eve Leary instead.

However, the prosecution claimed that Benons had told the traffic ranks who arrested him that the weapon belonged to him and it was for his protection.

It was earlier reported that on March 26, ranks of a police traffic patrol stopped a group of five men who were on three CG motorcycles at Norton Street and Louisa Row, Georgetown. According to a police press release, a search was subsequently carried out on the men and an unlicensed 9 mm pistol with 15 rounds was found on one – a police constable stationed in ‘B’ Division (Berbice).

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