On July 18, 2021 Rodel Hazelwood, a water-taxi operator, journeyed to Canaoun where he stayed overnight. The next day he ferried to Union Island where he picked up Joel Barker, who boarded the boat with a couple of bags. They then travelled back to Canaoun where Winston Parsons came aboard.
They left Canaoun with the intended destination of mainland St. Vincent but encountered some mechanical issues which led to the boat being towed onto Mustique.
A search of the vessel was conducted by some officers of the Royal SVG Police Force and they discovered a taped, partially opened package. Barker claimed the package saying, “officer that ah mines.”
After that search the officers noticed Parsons holding a black bag. Upon searching this bag, they discovered a firearm along with another package. Parsons claimed the items, the Court heard, saying, “the bag and its contents is mine”.
Barker and Parsons were taken into police custody. The firearm was taken to be examined and it was determined that it was fully functional.
Parsons in his defense stated “ your honor I wanted to take a shxt nah but the bathroom wasn’t opened yet so I end up going in the bush and when I there I see a bag in the bush by itself, so when I done I went and search it and saw the gun so I take it.”
He also said that he knew the boat was coming so he waited for it then boarded the vessel to journey to St. Vincent.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne summoned the ballistics expert to the court room to give details about the weapon. When asked to give a range or distance to which a bullet can travel if the firearm was fired from outside the court house, he told the Court that it can travel from outside of the courthouse to beyond the sea boarders directly opposite the Coreas Cement Department.
Winston Parsons was formally charged for his illegal possession of sixty-seven (67) rounds of 5.56mm ammunition.
He was also convicted for failing to secure the authorization of the Minister while having in his possession a prohibited weapon, to wit “one Zastava Surveyor 5.56mm firearm also known as the AK Pistol serial number MA5 WP004420”.
He pleaded guilty to both offenses and was sentenced to four years nine months for the possession of the firearm and fifteen months for the ammunition.
Joel Barker, for his transgressions, was sentenced for his possession of recreational cannabis – weighing 1, 632 grams. The Serious Offenses Court deemed him as having “intent to supply” and his capture in Vincentian territorial waters, apparently, qualified him to be brought up on drug trafficking charges too.
Barker was fined for EC$1, 530 for the possession offense. He has up to the end of August 2021 to zero that balance or, in default, face 5 months imprisonment.
He was also fined EC$1, 800 for the drug trafficking offense which has to be paid by October 29, 2021, if he wants to avoid being jailed for 6 months.