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Judges tell gun part smuggler his version of events lacks ‘any basis in reality’

A 40-year-old man jailed for smuggling gun parts into the island has had his appeal against conviction thrown out.

James Rumley, 40, argued in the Court of Appeal that the three charges against him should have been tried separately and that the judge had wrongly admitted prejudicial evidence in his Supreme Court trial.

But the Appeal Panel found that the evidence against Rumley was “overwhelming” and his version of events “lacked any basis in reality”.

Justice of Appeal Geoffrey Bell said in a recent judgment that Rumley had admitted mailing all three packages, which were found to contain gun parts, and that his version of events was difficult to accept.

Mr Justice Bell said: “First, while Rumley maintained that he had no knowledge of the contents of any of the packages, his palm print was found on the inner contents of the first package.

“Secondly, there was the use of two different FedEx facilities for sending the second and third packages, within a relatively short time frame.

“Next, Rumley said that he knew only the first name of the addressee of the second package, which was purported to contain only a compressor kit, and did not know his address, which is why he had sent the package to [the mother of his child].

“Next, he said that he had shipped the third package on behalf of a friend because it was the lightest item in his luggage, and he wanted to avoid spending money on shipping heavier items.

“So it can readily be understood why a jury should unanimously reject Rumley’s version of events.”

The Supreme Court heard in his trial last year that customs officers discovered gun parts hidden in three packages sent from Pittsburgh to Bermuda between June and October 2019.

None of the packages listed Rumley as the sender, but he was seen on CCTV at the FedEx offices when all three were sent.

One of the packages was addressed to someone Rumley went to school with, another to the mother of Rumley’s child and the third to Rumley’s home address.

Rumley admitted that he had been involved in the postage of all three packages, but denied knowledge that they contained weapons parts.

He told the court he was hired through an online delivery service to take the first package – and a customer – to FedEx and had no other connection to it.

Rumley said he mailed the second two packages days before he flew back to Bermuda because his luggage was full.

Despite his claims that he knew nothing about the gun parts, a jury found him guilty of all three counts.

He was later sentenced to 14 years behind bars for each count, with the sentences to run concurrently.

In the Court of Appeal last month, Rumley argued the three counts should have been handled separately, noting that the first two offences occurred months apart.

He also said evidence related to the first charge was not “cross admissible” in the later charges, and potentially prejudiced the jury against him.

But the Crown said the evidence against him was “overwhelming” and a guilty verdict was the only reasonable outcome.

Mr Justice Bell said he believed the jury convicted Rumley because he had failed to convince them that he had no knowledge of the gun parts given the evidence against him.

He said: “In short, the case against Rumley was indeed overwhelming, and his purported explanations lacked any basis in reality.”

The Appeal Panel also upheld Rumley’s 14-year sentence after they found it was not excessive given the facts of the case.

Mr Justice Bell wrote: “The offences were extremely serious.

“There is no legitimate purpose for which the component parts could have been imported into Bermuda, and in my view the judge was fully entitled to find that the component firearms parts, when constructed into fully functioning firearms, must have been intended for a criminal purpose.

“The judge carefully considered matters and gave full and relevant reasons.”

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