Tuesday, 11 September 2012 02:31
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s - Keith Padmore, a bus driver with the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital (CPH) has found himself the subject of investigations into a missing firearm following accusations leveled against him by Transportation Officer of the Ministry of Health Devon Joseph in late August.
Padmore was detained by police at least twice since the weapon’s alleged disappearance on August 22.
Information reaching Caribarena suggest that Padmore found himself on the wrong side of government vehicle (G1187) in which Joseph claims he left his firearm and only realised it was missing about an hour after handing over the vehicle.
The essence of the matter, according to the source, is that Padmore reported to work on the day in question and shortly after beginning his daily duties of transporting CPH workers and patients, he was personally summoned to the Health Ministry Headquarters by Joseph.
On his arrival he was instructed to exchange the vehicle he started the day with, for the one Joseph was driving.
After making the exchange, it was reported that the vehicle showed immediate signs of mechanical and other troubles that could not be immediately addressed by the Government Motor Pool. This was before 10 am on the day in question and according to the source, it was the only reported notice provided about the vehicle.
But while he was in the middle of his routine, Padmore said he received another call from the Transportation Officer of the Ministry of Health between 3 and 3:30 pm, at the end of his workday, demanding information on the whereabouts a firearm that was allegedly left in the vehicle.
“…Joseph called me on my cell phone asking me if I saw his gun in the vehicle and I said ‘no’. He asked if I looked under the seat when I got the bus and I told him I am not accustomed to looking under the seat whenever I get the vehicle from anyone,” Padmore said.
But Joseph insisted that the firearm must be in the vehicle and asked the driver to pull over and search the vehicle and then wait for him at a particular location so he could personally conduct a search.
Both searches failed to produce a gun.
Padmore’s day only got worse as he was invited to the St. John’s Police Station because a report of a missing firearm was made by Devon Joseph.
CPH Ward Assistant Ms. Bridgette Alexander delivered the information.
The driver was reportedly “questioned” by the Police about the weapon and according to the information he agreed to volunteer to a warrantless search of his home. This search, like that of the vehicle, yielded no results.
In the meantime, however, the laws governing firearm licenses in Antigua & Barbuda put the onus on the licensee to ensure that the weapon(s) are safe and accounted for.
Police spokesman Senior Sergeant William Holder said he was vaguely aware of the case.
Responding to the questions about the strict requirements for a licensed firearm holder to keep the weapon secured at all times or be responsible for its disappearance, Holder said that since Joseph made the police report personally, it could suggest that he was indeed being vigilant.
“Police have a right to question the individual and depending on the information, they have a right to question them more than once. We must carry out our investigation. They (the people being investigated and questioned) would always find the process harassing,” he said.
In the meantime, Devon Joseph explained that he could not provide much details on the matter since the police is still investigating it.
“I did lose the gun,” he confirmed.
His brief account of the matter suggests that he met Padmore on the Queen Elizabeth Highway for a vehicle exchange just outside the preschool.
He said the exchange was swift since the inclement weather did not permit for a prolonged "swap".
Joseph said he realised the gun was missing about an hour later.
“Keith believes that I am accusing him. If you have a licensed firearm and it (got) lost you have to go to the police.
If you don't and it end up in the wrong place you can end up in trouble. I am a responsible person so I went to the police and explained the situation,” he said.
The Transportation Officer added that if anyone else had driven the vehicle after him the police would have taken the same procedure and urged that the driver in question not take the matter too personally.
“It is not that anyone is accusing him of stealing the gun. It is just normal procedure. I don't want the gun in the wrong hands,” Joseph said.
He added that up to last week, the police had informed him that they had conducted a search of Padmore’s home and questioned him but to no avail.
The gun has still not been recovered.