ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) — West Indies cricketer Andre Fletcher says the EC$2,000 (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) fine imposed on him by a court in Dominica for possession of ammunition was as a result of a ‘genuine misunderstanding’ on his part.
However, the Grenadian wicketkeeper/batsman says he has accepted full responsibility, following his arrest at the Douglas Charles Airport, after security officials found 50 rounds of .22 ammunition in his possession.
In a widely circulated statement released this weekend, Fletcher says he had no idea that the package in his possession was actually .22 ammunition instead of .22 pellets for the registered hunting air rifle he owns.
“Whilst in Dominica, I came into possession of a package of what I thought were pellets for my air rifle and sought to carry them back with me. The package was obtained from a person who has a licence to have such items,” said Fletcher.
“When I obtained the package it was sealed. Having been told that the package contained air rifle pellets, without closely inspecting it further I assumed that the contents were indeed what I was told. Until it was brought to my attention at the airport, I had no inkling that the package contained live ammunition.”
Fletcher, who played 15 ODIs and 22 Twenty20 internationals for West Indies, was leaving Dominica after participating in a training camp with the Windward Islands Volcanoes ahead of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
He said he carried the package in his carry-on bag and it was during routine inspection that he was informed by a customs officer that he was carrying the ammunition.
“I carried the package openly in my hand to and through the airport and subsequently loosely placed it in my carry-on bag as I sought to clear security at the Douglas Charles Airport in Dominica,” the statement explained.
“During the normal inspection of my luggage, the customs officer in Dominica informed me that the items appeared to be .22 calibre live rounds and not .22 pellets. Upon further investigation of the package, it was indeed found that the contents were live .22 calibre rounds and not .22 pellets for air rifles.”
Fletcher, who last played for the West Indies in a T20 game against South Africa in Durban in January, said he was treated with respect by authorities in Dominica and is thankful for the role played by Team Manager Lockhart Sebastien in resolving the issue.
“I want to specially thank our team manager, Mr Lockhart Sebastien of the Windward Islands Volcanoes, who assisted me through the legal process and who would have indicated to the media at the time that, ‘It could have happened to anybody’,” said Fletcher.
“I am also of the view that the Dominican authorities, who at every turn treated me with respect, after investigating the case, believed the incident to have derived out of a genuine misunderstanding.”
Fletcher’s arrest in Dominica on an ammunition charge had sparked concern in Grenada, especially within the local cricket fraternity where officials appeared confused over the incident.
In a slightly lengthy statement aimed at clearing the air, Fletcher has insisted that he had no intentions of compromising his cricket career.
“The unfortunate incident which led to my detention in Dominica on May 28 will not deter me from continuing to represent the region or my country once given the opportunity to do so,” he stressed.
“I will never intentionally do anything to cause hurt or embarrassment to my nation, my fans or especially my family,” the statement ended.