By Wilkie Arthur
Freelance Court Reporter
#TurksandCaicos, May 30, 2023 – David O’Connor has already paid his fine and returned to the United States after agreeing to a guilty plea in mid-May, in his case of unlawful possession of ammunition. It was an arrest not published by the Royal TCI Police but the matter concluded in the supreme court under Justice, Tanya Lobban-Jackson.
On Tuesday 16th May 2023, a visiting tourist David O’Connor was sentenced and fined between $5,000-$6,000 for illegally being in possession of 44 rounds of ammunition in the Turks and Caicos Islands; O’Connor was not the holder of a firearm and ammunition license which is a crime that carries a mandatory sentence.
The incident took place in late March 2023, at the Providenciales International Airport, as he passed through airport security checkpoint the discovery was made. The accused David O’Connor was arrested and charged.
At his court appearance, O’Connor pleaded guilty to the offense and his attorney Oliver Smith, King’s Counsel put forward legal submissions outlining to the Hon. Lady Justice Tanya Lobban-Jackson that this is a case of exceptional circumstances.
These ‘exceptional circumstances’ allowed the court to depart from the now mandatory minimum of 12 years of imprisonment.
KC Smith presented a number of precedent setting cases from neighboring jurisdictions, citing their striking similarities; referenced were Bermuda, Jamaica, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.
Like the Turks and Caicos Islands, possession of illegal firearms and ammunition carries with it very heavy, mandatory jail sentences. However, in the case of tourists traveling to or from the airport with firearm or ammunition the courts would normally depart from a custodial sentence and offer a fine instead of imprisonment. In some cases the authorities making the illegal discovery would sometimes, waive the charge altogether. This too has also happened in The Turks and Caicos Islands.
The outcome in the court case did elicit some community outrage. Residents were expressive on what they observed was a double standard in the justice system, giving locals mandatory jail time and a ‘slap on the wrist fine’ to a visitor.
Despite community concerns as it relates to disparities between local firearm offenders and foreign/tourist offenders who are licensed to carry, but in their own home country, there is a recognition by the Courts of the impact on the industry if a tourist were to be locked up for possession of guns or ammunition.
Consideration is therefore given to tourists who admit responsibility; that is they forget having their legal firearm and/or ammo on them at the time of travel.
It is argued that ‘it could be devastating and the TCI courts would appear as unfair in the eyes in the international public.’
United States Tourist Guilty says TCI Police in Conviction Report
#TurksandCaicos, September 19, 2023 – A 26-year-old male has been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment having pleaded guilty to Possession of Ammunition.
Michael Allan Grim Jr. of Paoli Pike Floyds, Indiana was today (September 18th) sentenced. Mr. Grim was arrested on August 01st, 2023, and subsequently charged, after one black magazine, containing 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition was found in his luggage, whilst at the Providenciales International Airport.
During the investigation, Mr. Grim was interviewed by detectives of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force and admitted the ammunition belonged to him.
Head of Crime, Safeguarding, and Public Protection Superintendent Dean Holden in a brief statement said: “The laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands regarding the possession of firearms and ammunition is very clear. The laws are clearly defined as to the requirements needed in obtaining permission for possession of firearms and ammunition when traveling to the TCI. The laws apply to everyone and will be enforced.”
Officers of the Serious Crime Unit of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force investigated the matter.
Murder No. 14 in Kew Town; No Identity, No Leads Police ask for HELP
#TurksandCaicos, September 11, 2023 – The Kew Town Community was the scene of the country’s latest recorded murder according to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police which rushed to the community on Saturday September 2nd after yet another shooting.
It was the country’s 14th confirmed homicide and came one week after a married couple was showered with bullets resulting in the death of the husband, Jevanio Williams.
In an update on the killing, police in a brief communication said the victim was shot multiple times.
Calls were placed to the Police Control Room and a team of detectives arrived at the given location in Walter Cox Drive, where they saw a male with what appeared to be gunshot wounds about the body lying motionless on the ground.”
The male victim, who has yet to be formally identified, was pronounced deceased at the scene by medical officials.
Detectives continued investigations over the weekend, to establish the events surrounding the murder. The victim is said to have been shot in the head; assassination style.
Police, in revealing some details of the attack also launched an appeal for information in the crime.
“We are seeking the assistance of the public in identifying the deceased male victim who was dressed in a red t-shirt, dark short pants, and dark trainers.
The victim is approximately 35-40 years old, of medium build, and is believed to be of Haitian descent.
The public is being asked to contact 911, the closest police station, or call TCI Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 and give any information on this murder or any other illegal activity anonymously.”
During last year, the RTCIPF has been working on information gathering to classify which murders are related to gang activity. Sadly, this is another murder where there is no information regarding a motive or the identity of the victim, making categorization of the event near impossible.
Migrant Vessel Landing
#TurksandCaicos, September 2, 2023 – At approximately 10:10 pm on Tuesday, 29th August 2022, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Maritime Operations personnel onboard one of its maritime vessels contacted the 911 Police Control room and reported that they were in pursuit of what appeared to be a large wooden illegal vessel (sloop) carrying an estimated 200 people, making its way to the general area of North West Point, Providenciales.
The sloop failed to comply with instructions given by the Police and continued to make its way to shallow waters. The Police vessel was unable to get any closer in such shallow water. The migrant vessel ran aground, and its passengers began jumping into the water and ran to the shore.
It is believed the migrants landed somewhere between the Chrystal Bay and Malcolm Bay areas. Officers from the Maritime Operations immediately commenced rescue efforts in the surrounding waters, and one male and a small child were safely removed from the vessel. It is believed all the remaining migrants made it to land.
The time of the incident prohibited the responding agencies from conducting further searches however, coordinated search efforts led by the RTCIPF and supported by other agencies, resumed on Wednesday, 30th August with various resources deployed at strategic areas in an effort to locate and detain as many irregular migrants as possible.
This remains an ongoing multi-agency operation.
Thus far, a number of illegal migrants, including children have been located and detained.
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