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Detective Sergeant David, left, escorts the defendant, Dwight Haywood to court on May 12, 2023.
Detective Sergeant David, left, escorts the defendant, Dwight Haywood to court on May 12, 2023.

Under galvanised sheeting on the kennel of a ferocious dog might be a good place to hide something that you do not want the authorities to find.
But, apparently, not when you are dealing with detective Sergeant 191 David, attached to the Calliaqua Police Station.

A Spring Estate man learnt this as well as a lesson on why he should not have an illegal gun last week.

On Friday, the man, Dwight Haywood, a 52-year-old farmer, appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne at the Serious Offences Court and pleaded guilty to charges that on May 11, at Spring Estate, he had in his possession one 12 gauge ammunition and one 12 gauge shotgun, make and serial number unknown, without a licence issued under the Firearms Act.

He was ordered to pay fines of EC$8,300 by September in order to avoid prison time.

Haywood began to cry in the dock as the prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Corleen Samuel, read the facts.

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The court heard that on May 11, about 4 p.m., acting on information, detectives Station Sergeant Bristol and Sergeant David headed a team of officers to execute a search warrant at Haywood’s home in respect of firearms and ammunition.

The officers arrived at the home around 4:50 a.m. and met Haywood, who is living alone.

Haywood consented to the search and inside the house, the police recovered a brown handle bird gun.

David continued the search on the outside and observed that Haywood had a dog house in the yard.

The dog was barking aggressively. However, David went to the dog house, which was covered with galvanised sheeting.

When he looked under, he saw a brown handle shotgun, part of which was wrapped in a piece of cardboard.

David removed the firearm from where it was, showed it to the defendant, pointed out the offence to him and cautioned him.

Haywood replied, “Officer, me find it down ah Spring River, but me nah have no licence.”

Haywood was cautioned and interviewed in the presence of Justice of Peace Woodley and gave a statement in writing admitting to the offences.

The firearm was checked and one round of ammunition was found. Police ballistic expert Station Sergeant Cain tested the firearm and found that it was it was good working condition.

Checks revealed that Haywood was not the holder of a firearm licence.

In mitigation, the defendant gave a rambling explanation, saying that he found the firearm last December and thought it was a bird gun.

He said he carried it home because people are accustomed to stealing his produce, including his ginger and coconuts.

Haywood said he applied for a firearm licence but the authorities did not want to give him one because he did not have a farmer’s ID.

He told the court that a resident of the community comes to the area where he farms and discharges a “shine gun”.

Dwight Haywood 2
The defendant, Dwight Haywood, gestures to the media after leaving the Serious Offences Court on Friday, May 12, 2023.

The defendant said he did not know if that was the person who “squeal” on him but when the police came, he thought he would have been arrested for the bird gun, hence he told them he did not have any firearm.

He said he had four heads of cattle, 10 goats, a plantain field, and yam, vegetable and ginger cultivation

Haywood told the court that he has never used the shotgun and did not know how the police found out that he had it.

He speculated that it was someone who had come to him with a .38 firearm and told him he could hold it and “bark it” if anyone came to his farm. He said the person also brought a .45 firearm to him.

“Oh my god! Is gun central,” the chief magistrate remarked.

Haywood told the court that he had reported this to the Biabou Police Station.

He said he used the bird gun to guard his farm, from which people had stolen five goats before.

“I never, never use it,” he said of the shotgun and told the court that he had only put some cooking oil on it and some duct tape on the handle.

David confirmed to the court that Haywood is a farmer and has a number of crops under cultivation.

The detective said that before conducting the search, he gave Haywood the option of handing over the firearm.

In her submission on sentencing, Samuel said that Haywood had said a lot of things.

“The first thing he said, he doesn’t know what it was and then he said he had land to protect. He is saying a lot of things — a lot of confusing things,” the prosecutor said.

“He had the opportunity that if he found it to inform the police. He could have told them that he did not know if it was legal and, therefore, he did not want to walk with it,” Samuel said.  

“I enter into his feelings. He has lands and all of that. But it is possession and it is well kept,” she said, referring to the offence and the condition of the firearm.

In handing down her sentence, the chief magistrate said that Haywood had engaged the Biabou police before and should have done so when he found the firearm.

“Things are getting out of hand with guns and gun-related offences. We don’t want that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Browne said.

“We have to be vigilant. The legislators were cognisant of all of that when they thought of the legislation and the duration is seven years or EC$20,000 or both,” she said, referring to the maximum prison sentence and fine for firearm possession.

“So, they are sending a strong message,” Browne said, but noted that each case must be taken on its own merit.

She began with a fine of EC$9,000 saying that the court was aware of what is likely to happen to Haywood’s crops and animals if he were imprisoned.

Browne noted that the police had acted on information, the firearm was well kept and was strategically hidden next to a ferocious dog.

The chief magistrate further pointed out that Haywood had said that he was scared and wanted to throw the officers off. This, she said, was deception.

She said that while the firearm was recovered, the aggravating features of the offence outweigh the mitigating, and a further EC$3,000 was added to the fine.

Mitigating on Haywood’s behalf was “the overabundance of remorse that was shown,” the chief magistrate said, referring to the extent to which Haywood had cried in court.

Haywood was granted the full one-third discount for his guilty plea, which brought the fine down to EC$8,000 for the firearm, which he must pay by Sept. 8 or spend 10 months in prison.

For the ammunition, he must pay EC$300 by June 9 or spend one month in prison.

“When you see things you ain’t put down. Leave it. Call the police,” Browne said.

She ordered confiscation of the firearm and ammunition.