SAN IGNACIO TOWN, Tues. Feb. 24, 2015–A Belize Defense Force (BDF) soldier and his wife, who were both busted with an unlicensed handgun and a number of unlicensed ammunition, received a 5-year sentence after facing trial for the offenses in the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court yesterday, Monday.
The incident occurred in Santa Elena Town, Cayo District, on December 22, 2011, when Crimes Investigation Branch (CIB) and Special Branch officers conducted a search at the home of Gerald August, 34, a BDF corporal, originally of Billy White, Cayo District.
Police said that while searching the house, they found a black Pietro Berretta pistol, with the serial number grounded off, inside a box with clothes.
A further search led to the discovery of six red Siller-brand 12-gauge shotgun cartridges that were stashed under a toilet bowl, and 4 sets of assault rifle ammunition which were inside a black plastic bag that was buried about 6 inches under the ground in the yard behind the kitchen and covered with two pieces of board.
When the bag was unearthed, it contained a magazine loaded with twenty-seven (27) 5.56mm live rounds and three other metal clips, each containing 10 live rounds of 5.56 mm, all totaling (57) 5.56mm rounds, which are the kinds used in M-16 assault rifles.
August’s wife, Loida Eunice August, 27, was also present at the time and as a result, the couple was jointly arrested and charged for “kept firearm without a gun license, “kept ammunition without a gun license” and “kept prohibited ammunition.”
They were subsequently remanded to the Belize Central Prison, but were later released on Supreme Court bail.
When the matter went to trial before Magistrate Nardia Morgan yesterday, Monday, they were both found guilty and sentenced to five years each in prison.
During the trial, the defendants asked the Magistrate for leniency in the handing down of their sentence for the sake of their four children, all of whom are still minors, who must now take up residence with relatives for the duration of their sentences.