By Aaron Humes
Former Special Constable Jose Haylock, 36, is serving jail time after he admitted to being in possession of an unlicensed gun and unlicensed ammunition.
Haylock received three sentences of five years, which include one for keeping an unlicensed pistol and two for keeping unlicensed ammunition.
The sentences, however, are to run concurrently, so he will spend five years or less behind bars.
Haylock chose to change his plea from not guilty after prosecutors introduced video footage of the search that officers of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) conducted at his Louise Bevans Street residence in February of 2012. Haylock was present at the time. His live-in companion, Corrine Martinez, was not.
On the strength of a search warrant, the officers recovered a .22 caliber pistol with ten rounds of ammunition in the magazine under the cushion of a single couch, as well as eleven rounds of 9mm ammunition in a blue purse.
While sentencing Haylock, the Chief Magistrate chided him for allowing a “charade” of a trial to continue for two years, knowing fully well, she said, that he was in fact guilty.
His attorney, Arthur Saldivar, asked the Chief Magistrate in mitigation on Haylock’s behalf, to consider the precedent set in the case of Corporal Gino Peck in January. Corporal Peck, charged for possession of ammunition at his home around the same time as Haylock, escaped with only a fine. This resulted from the rarely-used Section 54 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Procedure) Act, Chapter 99 of the Laws of Belize, which stipulates that the court may, in exceptional circumstances, impose a fine of no more than $250 for lesser offenses that would not be tried in the Supreme Court
Prosecutor, Crown Counsel Kaysha Grant submitted that the court erred in that determination, but the Chief Magistrate ultimately decided that the two situations were not the same
Haylock, she said, “shows a dangerous trait,” in keeping ammunition and a firearm at his home. Haylock’s post with the Department is temporary at best, while Peck is a tenured officer with many years of experience.
Haylock’s common-law companion and co-defendant, Corrine Martinez, was released after Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith agreed with her attorney, Arthur Saldivar, that she had no case to answer because of lack of evidence against her.