By Orville Williams
Businessman Raymond Yhap is now a free man after the criminal case against him was dismissed by the court, following a no case submission made by defence attorney, Andrew O’Kola.
In August last year, Yhap was charged with breaching the terms of his Firearm User’s Licence after the police raided several of his business establishments and seized items including a firearm, ammunition, and cash.
Licensed firearm holders are apparently forbidden from having more than 60 bullets in their possession at any one time, but police reportedly found 142 bullets at one of Yhap’s establishments, resulting in the charge.
During the trial, which ended last month, the prosecution tried to prove that Yhap possessed more ammunition than was permitted by law, using the witness accounts of police personnel who came into contact with the ammunition at different stages of the seizure process.
The witnesses all claimed differing figures for the amount of ammunition that was found, leading O’Kola to rebuff those accounts on the basis that they were inconsistent. He also voiced concern with the fact the ammunition was never counted in the presence of his client, but had been done elsewhere.
Those issues, he told Observer, formed part of the basis for the no case submission he made on behalf of his client.
“There were two sets of issues essentially. The first issue, as to whether the elements of the offence were made out, and the second had to do with what were internal inconsistencies and irregularities.
“As a result of those inconsistencies and irregularities, it was quite clear that any case that the Crown purports to have would be so tenuous that it would not be possible for it to pass a very strong no case submission application.”
Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh accepted the no case submission, declaring in court yesterday that Yhap was free to move on with his life.
O’Kola commended the Magistrate for that “welcome judgement”, quipping that, “this decision by the Chief Magistrate has crystalized an important principle of law – that is, the fruit of the poisonous tree is not a fruit”.
He added that the outcome of the case was a true example of justice being served.
“All the Magistrate did was simply what justice required; look at the arguments raised by the Crown, the arguments raised by the defence, and then make a decision consistent with justice.
“If there is one time you look at a court and see the results…this is one case in which justice was done — not only seen to be done, but [also] felt to be done, given the way in which the matter progressed.”
Yhap, whose business operations include the New Thriving Restaurant, had been granted bail and made to surrender his travel documents while the matter was before the court.
O’Kola disclosed that those documents are expected to be returned in short order, as well as efforts made to reacquire his seized firearm.
The attorney noted, too, that despite their obvious delight in the victory, it was not a matter they were looking to gloat about.
Instead, they were more focused on the fact that Yhap would now be able to go about his life “without the anxiety and the stress of having the matter over [his] head”.