Yesterday, Hindus and the general population of T&T celebrated the Hindu festival of Divali with a public holiday.
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Penny’s relatives in court on arms, ammo charges $400,000 bail each
The relatives of Penelope Beckles-Robinson, a contender for the leadership of the May 18 opposition party the People’s National Movement (PNM), were each granted $400,000 bail yesterday when they appeared before Senior Magistrate Indrani Cedeno in the Arima Magistrates Court charged with possession of four guns and 12 rounds of ammunition. The relatives included her brother, Lincoln Beckles, 54; his wife, Janice; their son Brandon, 26 and Lincoln Beckles' brother-in-law Wayne Farrell, 52. They were represented by Senior Counsel Pamela Elder and given the option of a cash alternative of $25,000 by way of a manager’s cheque with proof that the money was gained legally. The four were arrested at their home at Swift Drive, Phase Three, Malabar, last Saturday after police executed a search warrant and found a Magnum .357 pistol, a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver, an AK 47, which the charges stated was a prohibited weapon, and a shotgun.
They were also accused of having six rounds of .44 ammunition and six rounds of .38 ammunition. They were not called on to enter a plea as the charges were laid indictably. Cedeno was informed that the guns and ammunition were allegedly found in the bedroom of the Beckles-Robinson’s nephew, Brandon. Before granting bail to the four Cedeno lamented that she had to grant bail since it was not in the schedule of offences in which the ammendment to the Bail Act denied an accused bail. “Of course this is one of the things which the court is concerned about, because regarding the recent ammendment to the Bail Act one may blindly look at the legislation on its surface and think otherwise but as the law currently stands for the offences of possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, and for drug trafficking concerns, there is no statutory impediment on the issue of granting bail.
“Unless the matter is being heard in trial, the only matters that fall under the statute are matters which have a ten-year jail term or more. “That is the only time that the court can deny bail and this is a cause of great concern as the possession of firearms and ammunition can be connected to robbery and assault," Cedeno explained, adding she was there to execute the law which the Parliament passed “in their wisdom.” Before the comment Elder informed the court her clients all have unblemished records and that the offences with which they were charged were bailable.
Elder said Lincoln was gainfully employed as a manager at the National Flour Mills and he was the owner of the home where the weapons were allegedly found. She added that Janice Beckles was a housewife while their son was employed as a clerical assistant at the University of the West Indies while Farrell was a joiner by trade. Elder asked that her clients be granted reasonable bail. In response, court prosecutor Sgt Leon did not object to bail. The four are to re-appear in court on April 16. Sgt Mathew Haywood laid the charge.
Another family on ammo charges
In an unrelated matter a family of seven were all granted bail totalling $1.2 million by Cedeno after they appeared before her charged with possession of 37 rounds of assorted ammunition.
The seven were Kareem Trotman, Christine Watson, Chryseis Watson, Barbabra Watson, Keron Trotman, Jerome Trotman and Wilfred Trotman were arrested last Saturday at a house in Malabar, Arima. All except for Kareem Trotman were granted $150,000 bail each and pleaded not guilty to the offence. Kareem Trotman pleaded guilty and was granted $300,000 bail. All seven are to reappear in court on April 16 and were charged by PC Anil Andrews of the Northern Division Task Force.