Former national cyclist gets High Court bail on gun charges

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Former national cyclist Hamzah Eastman

High Court Judge Navindra Singh on Thursday, last, granted former national cyclist Hamzah Eastman bail of $150,000 on gun-related charges.

Eastman was initially charged with the offences on November 10, 2020, when he appeared before City Magistrate Leron Daly. The Magistrate, however, refused to grant bail and remanded him to prison.

As such, Eastman’s lawyer, Bernard DaSilva made an application before the High Court for his client to be released on pre-trial liberty.

According to the first charge against Eastman, on November 07, 2020, at Cane View Avenue Roxanne Burnham Gardens, he had a .32 revolver in his possession when he was not the holder of a firearm license.

It was further alleged that on the same day at the said location, he had four live rounds of .32 ammunition in his possession when he was not the holder of a firearm license. He has pleaded not guilty to both allegations.

According to the facts submitted by Eastman’s lawyer, on the day in question, his client was standing on the roadway with a group of friends when a police vehicle drove past them.

The lawyer added that the vehicle stopped and reversed. DaSilva said that on seeing this, Eastman’s friends ran away, leaving him behind. The lawyer added that the police ranks combed the scene and picked up what appeared to be a gun not too far from where his client was standing.

According to the defence counsel, his client was unable to provide the police with the accurate identity and place of abode of his friends. He said that Eastman provided them with nicknames which resulted in the police ranks being upset and accusing him of covering for his friends.

The lawyer claimed that the police told his client he will have to “own up to the gun.” DaSilva urged Justice Singh to admit his client to bail because there is a likelihood he may not get a trial within a reasonable time as the police are still conducting investigations.

Added to that, the lawyer said that given the inhumane and unhygienic conditions at the prison, his client is at risk of contracting the deadly COVID-19. The lawyer further submitted that based on the nature and complexities of the investigations, there is a strong likelihood of the trial date being delayed.

“This delay can be considered unfair, thereby denying the defendant of a fair hearing within a reasonable time.  Article 144 of the Constitution is being relied upon,” DaSilva noted.

The lawyer added that his client is aptly entitled to rely on the presumption of innocence at this stage of proceedings. “At this stage of proceedings it is nothing more than a mere allegation albeit a serious allegation, and this charge is yet to be proven.”

He said that Eastman is by no means a flight risk. According to the defence counsel, since his client’s incarceration, there has been a continuous economic loss to his family since he is the sole breadwinner of his family in light of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19.

Eastman will make his next court appearance on November 27, 2020, before Magistrate Daly.