The superintendent of prisons, Albert Wade said he is “disgusted” that controversy has taken over the almost immediate release of a Texan visitor who was sentenced to a year in Antigua prison.
Wade’s comments come after Shannon Martinez, who was sentenced for possessing rounds of ammunition as she tried to leave Antigua via the V. C. Bird International Airport with the live rounds in her luggage, spent only one day behind bars.
“Twice I left Antigua with ammunition in my bag, I took five rounds to Barbados and handed them over to police there and I took two rounds to Miami. The morning I woke up and read the article I spoke to the commissioner. Had they called me that matter would not have reached court,” he said.
Martinez left Antigua without serving the sentence in full and this has angered people in some quarters who said it was politically motivated.
“There are persons in Antigua who think that everything has to be done by a politician. I did that on my own volition. I was not prompted by anyone. I wrote the minister and recommended her immediate release. This was based on the fact that I didn’t believe that this matter should have gone to court and if it was brought to my attention as deputy commissioner of police it would not have gone,” Wade said
The convict, her husband, and two children came to Antigua on holiday on June 1 and were scheduled to leave last Tuesday.
However, when they were being processed for departure, 20 bullets were found. The woman reported that she bought the box of bullets in the U.S. and left it in the suitcase, and when she arrived in Antigua no one apparently noticed them.
The 41-year-old resident of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of ammunition in the All Saints Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday and she was sentenced to one year in jail.
Wade, a deputy commissioner of police said he is cognisant of the gun and ammunition laws of Texas and understands the likelihood of someone mistakenly travelling with bullets, without considering the gun and ammunition laws of their destination.
He pointed to two instances — before the law was changed removing fines as penalties for gun and ammunition convictions — where a marine and another licensed firearm holder arrived in Antigua with bullets which were confiscated and the matters did not go to court.
Wade said after interviewing Martinez, he chose to write the minister in charge of prisons, Steadroy Benjamin, requesting extra remission on her behalf and the minister agreed.
The deputy commissioner of police said there was nothing political about his decision in this matter and he has requested extra remission on behalf of other prisoners and there are at least 10 requests sitting on his desk waiting to be processed.