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Crime

Former Tourist Board Director will go to trial says Supreme Court judge

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 21, 2022 – A criminal trial has been order for Ramon Andrews, former Director of the TCI Tourist Board after failing to have the case against him thrown out.

Andrews, who was investigated and arrested by officers from the Integrity Commission, was charged in 2019 for corruption and financial misconduct. His attorney Oliver Smith, KC argued that the Integrity Commission officers acted outside of their remit when they arrested him as that was a power reserved  for those in public office i.e. policemen.

The Integrity Commission Ordinance maintains its officers are not policemen.

However, leaning on court documents shared by the TCI Sun Newspaper, Supreme Court Judge Shiraz Aziz rejected Smith’s argument maintaining that “The fact that the section states that the officer is not a police officer does not of itself mean that the officer cannot or shall not arrest or charge someone who he is investigating or where as a result of the investigation, there is evidence which can support a charge.”

While the judge maintained that the specification was to keep the Integrity Commission officers separate from the Royal TCI Police, not reduce their powers of arrest thus the trial will go forward, he did admit the language of the law lent to varied interpretations.

Andrews was appointed in 2016 and in 2019 became the subject of an “extensive investigation” and was charged by the Integrity Commission.  Details on the case have been miniscule, shedding no light on the extent of his alleged corruption and financial misconduct.

There was talk of up to $100,000 in misappropriated funds but at the time of that public report, Andrews told Magnetic Media the amount of money promoted on social media in the case was inflated.

He was put on administrative leave by the Tourist Board and was succeeded by Pamela Ewing who has since resigned the post.

The matter was argued on behalf of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by Willin Belliard, prosecuting attorney and (Governor’s appointed) member of the House of Assembly.

Crime

Three Arrested, Drugs Seized in North Caicos

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 20, 2024Serious Crime Unit detectives of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have arrested  three men and seized a quantity of marijuana and cocaine during anti-crime operations in North  Caicos. 

Senior Officers and Magistrates issued Authorities and Warrants to Search four premises from  noon on February 14th to 3 pm today (February 16th). 

Three males, two of whom are aged 21 and an 18-year-old, were arrested for murder.  Investigations remain ongoing. 

Head of the Serious Crime and Public Protection Unit Superintendent Dean Holden said: “Our  team’s dedication and intelligence-led policing continue to play a significant role in disrupting  criminal activities.  

“Our operations will remain ongoing throughout the TCI as we continue to pursue leads and  ensure those responsible for causing fear are held accountable within the confines of the law. Our  communities deserve to feel safe, and we won’t rest until that goal is achieved.  

“I wish to also thank members of the public for their continued support and information ”. 

Additionally, Tactical Officers conducted a series of operations in Grand Turk. Several field searches were conducted in Over Back, and several items relating to ongoing  investigations were found, including a firearm. 

The public is asked to contact 911, the closest police station, the RTCIPF Serious Crime Unit at  231-1842, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 and anonymously give any information on  illegal activity.

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Crime

Elderly Tourism Man found with ammunition committed to Trial

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Correspondent

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 15, 2024 – An elderly defendant from the United States of America appeared before her Ladyship the Hon Chief Justice(CJ) Mrs Mable Agyemang via video link from his homeland for sufficiency hearing on Friday 9th February 2024.

His attorneys King’s Counsel, Mr Oliver Smith and assisted by attorney Mrs Kimone Tennant did not challenge the sufficiency hearing and conceded that there is sufficient evidence on the papers or in the bundle to commit the accused to trial in the Supreme Court. 

MICHAEL-LEE EVANS was allegedly found with seven rounds of ammunition in his luggage upon departure at the Providenciales International Airport just before Christmas last year, on the 12th December, 2023.

He was remanded by the Magistrate’s Court on December until his sufficiency hearing in February of this year, but his attorney KC Smith filed an emergency swift bail application just before the Supreme Court was adjourned Sine Die (without date) for the holidays. 

The office of the DPP, in the person of Mrs Nayasha Hatmin opposed bail for the supposedly very ill senior citizen, but the learned Hon lady Justice Ms Tanya Lobban Jackson granted cash and signed bail to the accused and permitted him to leave the country and return for the plea and directions hearing which is now listed for him on March 22nd, 2024.

Hon. CJ, upon request by Mr. Smith, KC, reluctantly granted a far date for the old man’s plea and directions hearing (PDH). 

His PDH was to be on the February 22, along with all the other six individuals committed to stand trial at the sufficiency hearing on Friday February 9th 2024. 

However, Mr. Smith KC presented meticulous reasoning for his client, even if at the risk of briefly frustrating of the Chief Justice.  Smith requested a much later date for the next court hearing, explaining that he needed time for a decision, he was awaiting from the Court of Appeal  on a point of law regarding the issue of “Sentencing Disparity and Exceptions Circumstances” that has created a serious public outcry here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

KC Smith said the matter involves the Attorneys General reference proceedings before the Court of Appeal and waiting the court’s findings, rulings and/or directions.

The CJ told Mr Smith that she’s not minded to push the court date any further because the matter involving the Attorney General has only to deal with sentence and nothing to do with his client going to trial. 

The CJ, in a very strong tone of voice said, “Mr. Smith KC, I don’t normally get annoyed with you but I am annoyed now, I don’t see what the Attorney General reference matter has to do with your client’s case now or being put to the next PDH.”

KC Smith still attempted to try get the CJ to see it his way and he added that he’s also not going to be in the jurisdiction at the next PDH on 22nd February. The CJ then reminded him that he’s here today before the court with his assistant Mrs Kimone Tennant allow her to do it, but he said he have conduct of the matter and would prefer doing the matter himself.

The CJ warned him that “you have used up all your Christmas presents indulgence for the year already” as she reluctantly granted him an extra month’s extension for the PDH regarding the American Tourist Michael-Lee Evans. The Plea and Directions Hearing (PDH) is set for March 22nd. 

Ms. Tassja Mitchell was for the Crown and took no position throughout but when asked by the CJ her position, she replied, “I’m guided by the Court my lady.”

The accused man’s bail was extended to his next Court date of which he will have to travel back to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) as ordered by her Ladyship the Hon Ms.Tanya Lobban-Jackson when she granted him bail in December last year.

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Crime

LORENZO GERBEX CHARGED by Royal TCI Police

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Officers of the Serious Crime Unit of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have charged a man with drug and firearm-related offences. 

LORENZO GERBEX, 28, of Providenciales, was charged yesterday (February 11). Mr. Gerbex is charged with the following offences: 

  1. Conspiring to supply firearms and 
  2. Conspiring to supply cannabis. 

The accused was remanded in custody pending the next available court date. 

Head of Crime and Public Protection, Superintendent Dean Holden, said, “Following an intensive six-month investigation into the supply of firearms, ammunition and controlled drugs in the Turks and Caicos Islands, officers arrested Mr Gerbex. The charges were laid after police officers consulted with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

This is part of the continued efforts by the RTCIPF to target Serious and Organised Crime on the islands and reduce the associated violence. 

I again appeal to the public to give us information on illegal activities by calling 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842 or the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-8477 (TIPS).”

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