The Firearms Act makes no allowance for Good Samaritans; once you are found with a gun, you are deemed to be guilty until you can prove that you are innocent
Joseph Nuñez, 40, an ex-police officer and employee of the Belize City Council who prosecutes traffic cases at the Municipal Court, has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison after he was arraigned in the Magistrate’s Court today, Friday, on charges of “kept unlicensed firearm and kept unlicensed ammunition.”
Nuñez’s run-in with the law, however, comes out of a strange set of circumstances, which, if they are proven to be true, would illustrate a serious lack of discretion on the part of police investigators, because the gun in question that police say they found in Nuñez’s possession is a licensed gun, purportedly belonging to one of Nuñez’s friends, who works as a security guard.
The traffic prosecutor was arrested at his job site, the Municipal Court, located at the Commercial Center, on Monday, June 23, and police later charged him with the two offenses against the Firearm Act, for which no bail can be offered upon arraignment.
Nuñez appeared today before the newly appointed Magistrate, Herbert Panton, a former Crown Counsel at the Solicitor General’s office.
Yesterday, Thursday, when Nuñez was brought to court, he appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, but the matter was stood down in anticipation of the intervention of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.
Vidal, however, was tied up in criminal matters at the Court of Appeal.
In court today, Nuñez’s attorneys, Dickie Bradley and Alifa Elrington-Hyde, urged the court to stand-down the matter until the DPP is appraised of the circumstances of the charges.
Magistrate Panton agreed and stood down the arraignment until 2:00 p.m. When he was arraigned on the two charges in the afternoon, Nuñez pleaded not guilty. Panton remanded him into custody until his next adjournment date on August 13.
While Nuñez was on his way to his home on Fairweather Street on Sunday, June 22, a police mobile unit spotted him riding his motorcycle without a helmet, and a rear light was not working. When he was stopped, he reportedly explained to the officers that he had the loaded gun on him, and said that the gun belonged to his security guard friend, and that he was holding the gun because his friend had been drinking and was having an argument with his girlfriend.
Nuñez’ admission led police to charge him with the two firearm offenses.