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Crime

Not Spy balloons after all, says US  

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#USA, February 15, 2023 – The United States says the three objects shot down in quick succession over the weekend are likely used for commercial purposes not intelligence gathering, but maintain that the very first balloon in the saga, shot down on February 4th was definitely a spy balloon. 

No reports of anyone stepping forward to claim the balloons that were shut down over Alaska, Canada, and Michigan on Friday, Saturday and Sunday have yet been made, but the US is seeking to allay fears in its residents.

While confirming that they believed China did in fact, have a spy balloon program, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council said, based on intelligence these three objects “could just be balloons tied to some benign purpose”.

It’s news that could let some air out of the bubble of tension between the United States and China over the balloon fiasco that had increased fears of Chinese surveillance over the west and caused threats of retaliation to be flung back-and-forth between the two world powers.

Already US media is reporting that a canceled diplomatic meeting between Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State and China may be back on, this time in Germany.

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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Crime

Smart Grocery Store Employees allegedly caught in stealing cover-up with Court case still pending

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Correspondent

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 15, 2024 – They appeared yet again unrepresented in early January (Tuesday January 9th, 2024) before his honor Mr. Jolyon Hatmin, the Chief Magistrate.

These alleged acts of dishonesty matters against the duo have been pending since Wednesday, March 16th, 2022. They are charged with a joint count of theft of $847.47 from Graceway Cash ‘N’ Carry, located on Hospital Road, Providenciales.

The ladies DWANA FULFORD and BENEKA GARLAND are also both charged with a joint count of acting together while obtaining property by deception, namely groceries in the said amount.

The last sole count of false accounting goes to DWANA FULFORD. It is alleged that she dishonestly, with a view to gain for herself or to cause loss to another, did make certain entries in a journal kept for accounting purposes, which she knew was false, misleading and deceptive in material particularly where it shows payment received in the amounts of $847.47 was voided by her DWANA FULFORD and returned to the customer, where in fact there was no said payment received. 

The Chief Magistrate told the defendants that they were recently assigned legal aid, so when they return to court in February, their matters should proceed.

They were also warned for arriving court late, and CM said, “I wouldn’t lock you up today, but 10 am, is 10 am.”

Fulford and Garland both appeared on Tuesday February 13th along with their senior defense counsel, Mr Ashwood Forbes trial-ready.

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