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Fanny Pack, Hurricane Damage and a possible Set Up lead to Not Guilty in Gun Trial



By Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Reporter



#TurksandCaicos, July 27, 2023 – A hurricane damaged set of doors, a lack of DNA evidence and a concealing fanny pack seemed to convince a jury of seven that a young man held for gun and ammunition may have been set up for the crime; his defence attorney poking holes in the case of the Police and Prosecutor to secure a not guilty verdict.

A serious firearms trial was scheduled for a July 10, 2023 start at the Grand Turk Supreme Court and it did, lasting some seven days, the jury returned a not guilty verdict for the man accused of illegal possession.

A jury comprising three men and four women reached a unanimous verdict for the now 20-years-old, JAVAUGHN EDWARD FORBES, who claimed  he was set up and did not own the gun or ammunition in question.

Representing the Crown was Principal Public Prosecutor, Clement Joseph, along with public prosecutor Tassja Mitchell.   Senior defense attorney, Noel Skippings represented the now acquitted defendant.

The allegations date back to October 1, 2021; the accused was freed on bail pending the trial.

During the trial, the jury heard that on the date in question the police armed with a search warrant came and executed a search for firearm at the home of JAVAUGHN FORBES on prison road, Grand Turk.  He was living with his adopted mother and her young daughter.

They specifically told them they came to search for a firearm.  They began their search and on the floor they allegedly found a box with a firearm and with four rounds of ammunition inside the box.  The accused was in handcuffs.  He told the officers he did not know anything about it.  One officer said the box was in plain sight, but on the cross examination by defense counsel Skippings, it was established through Sergeant Shervin Adams that ‘the box’ could have been either hidden by clothes or partly hidden by clothes.

They then took the accused and he was charged with keeping a firearm and keeping ammunition, contrary to Section 3 Subsection (1) of the Firearms Ordinance at the time, as then it carried a mandatory minimum of seven years imprisonment.

It came out in the trial that the door to house was not able to be locked and that Forbes’ room had no door.  It was explained that the recent and last hurricane had damaged the doors, so he had no door, just an opening.

The police confirmed that there was no door to Forbes’ room, but could not confirm if the outside door to the house could not be locked.

The police evidence in the trial was that they were acting on information received.  Someone tipped them off and told them a firearm was in the house.

The defense’s case was that Forbes could have been set up.  It was explained to the jury that the police informant told them exactly where to go because and the sergeant testified that indeed they went directly to the room of the young man.

Other officers had testified that they searched all of the rooms, but the sergeant’s testimony was ‘they only search his room,’

Defence Counsel Contentions were:

  1. The outside door wasn’t locked, so anybody could have entered the house.
  2. Young Forbes left out early in the morning to take his horses for the tourists when ships arrived.
  3. His mother worked and left the house from around 8:15am about 5:00pm is when she returned from work.  So anybody could have entered the house.
  4. His room had no door, anybody could have entered his room as he would be out all day sometimes.  His mother would be out just about all day too.  Anybody could have entered the house.

The defense argued that, his client had no knowledge that a gun was in the home.  It was said the weapon was in a fanny pack, the fanny pack was there and the gun and ammo were inside of it, according to the police evidence in the trial.

Police had hoped a sentimental link to the murdered cousin of the accused would be compelling enough evidence, however, it was made out to be frivolous by the defence counsel.

At the trial, it was explained that on the fanny pack was a button of the accused’s late cousin, Lloydel “LJ” Swann, who died August 10th, 2019 from gunshot wounds.  The police tried to use that to say well, because the button is on the fanny pack, he had to know what’s in the fanny pack.

However, counsel for the defendant said ‘no, anybody could have put that button on there.’

His mother in the house or the daughter or somebody from the outside could have put that button on the fanny pack in order to incriminate his client; for Skippings, this fact was not strong enough to put a young man away for seven years on a gun charge.

Police, during the trial also testified that DNA evidence was collected in the case, but when the attorney sought the results of the test, there was none said Police, as the forensic information was not sent out – since October 2021 – for analysis.

The jury spent a couple of hours in deliberation of the evidence presented; all seven returned and agreed that JAVAUGHN EDWARD FORBES was not guilty.


Demolition coming as South Base to Undergo Testing for Asbestos



Turks and Caicos, July 18th, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government would like to advise the public of Grand Turk, that a consulting firm has been contracted to carry out testing of the buildings on the South Base Compound for the presence of asbestos.  A week of testing began Wednesday, July 10. This is to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and to protect workers, residents, and the public from possible asbestos exposure risks once comprehensive works on the base commence.

This is the initial consultation necessary to determine the methodology for the demolition and disposal of derelict buildings in the assessed area.  It is believed that low-risk micro-fibres are present in some of the buildings, owing to the period of construction and the types of materials used during that era.  Testing will confirm whether asbestos is present and if so, at what levels.

As a precautionary measure, signs have been erected to advise the public to avoid entering any of the dilapidated structures; as building materials containing asbestos, if disturbed, can release tiny asbestos fibres into the air.  Currently only the consultants are authorised to traverse the buildings until further notice.

Residents of Grand Turk have for years demanded that Governments address the unsightly area. The requests were mainly in relation to the aesthetics of the buildings. However, the interventions were deferred at various times for varying reasons.

The South Base is a huge compound, by island standards, with an area containing over twenty-one (21) building sites. It was formerly used as a United States Government base, and then as administrative offices by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. Some of the structures were renovated and are in acceptable condition, whilst others were destroyed over the years by hurricanes and normal wear and tear. 

The South Base, which has mostly been left as a decrepit and ghostly development of obsolete structures is finally being remedied. The area, which is a main thoroughfare for tourism and commerce when cleaned up, will provide space for numerous governmental and civilian uses.

Residents of Grand Turk sharing the optimism of a prospective demolition should adhere to this notification and any precautionary warnings erected for their health, safety, and well-being.

Subsequent phases of the works will be published via a public tendering.

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Caribbean News

RBC donates $175,000 to Hurricane Beryl relief efforts



PORT OF SPAIN — In the wake of Hurricane Beryl, RBC Royal Bank (RY on TSX and NYSE) (“RBC”) and RBC Foundation USA announced a donation of C$175,000 to the Canadian Red Cross and the American Red Cross in support of Caribbean and U.S. relief efforts.

The devastating hurricane impacted several Caribbean and U.S. communities where RBC operates, including Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and Tobago.

RBC’s contribution will support emergency relief efforts, including shelters, hygiene kits, and social assistance to those in the affected communities.

“The intensity of Hurricane Beryl this early in the season is concerning and our thoughts are with the individuals affected in the Caribbean communities as well as in the U.S.,” said Chris Duggan, Head of RBC Caribbean Banking.

“At RBC, we believe it is our responsibility to support our communities in times of need. Our donation to the Red Cross, will provide immediate assistance to those impacted, ensuring they receive the necessary resources to recover and rebuild.”

Commenting on the Caribbean generosity as well as that of our larger RBC community, Duggan added: “The response of the RBC Caribbean Banking employees, as well as that of our larger RBC community has been generous and unhesitating. In response to the disaster, our colleagues are coming together in many unique and incredible ways and donating personally to help those affected.”

Those that would like to support the relief efforts can donate to the Canadian Red Cross at or the American Red Cross at

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FortisTCI makes a case for Rate Increase in Media Meeting



Ruth Gardiner Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer of FortisTCI

Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer


Turks and Caicos, July 17, 2024 – President and Chief Executive Officer of FortisTCI, Ruth Gardiner Forbes says it is very necessary for the company to be granted the 6% increase that it has requested, because it has absorbed many costs in previous years.

Devon Cox FortisTCI

The company is the main electricity provided in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and the CEO shared that the rate adjustment will aid FortisTCI in meeting the demands of an expanding economy, and growing costs to operate.

If granted, the proposed 6% increase in electricity rate, would mean that an additional $2 to $15 per month for the majority of residential customers, explained Forbes.

While addressing a recent media event, the CEO stressed that “this rate increase is necessary, and we have had to make a lot of investments to keep up with the growth,” she said.

Adding that several factors contribute to the need for increased rates, including cybersecurity risks, wildfire risks, supply chain challenges, and evolving regulatory requirements, she said “this is one of the most difficult things that we have to do, is go to our customers and ask for an increase every year.”

She said the existing circumstances have forced the company to seek the proposed adjustment, and that the rate increase is necessary, as “we have to make the application because amidst all this growth, we have had to make a lot of investments to keep up with the growth,” she told the forum.

The CEO reasoned that given the importance of retaining reliable service, it is not plausible for the TCI to have a headline that says “we are experiencing blackouts,” and the company does not receive a guaranteed 17.5% return, although the rate is allowable by contract, the average return on rate base for the past five years was 3.9%, with the highest being 5.1%.

FortisTCI Execs

The company’s Director of Energy Production, Alvejes Desir, gave details of the impact of the depth of the water at the port on fuel supply costs, adding that limited depth restricts the size of ships that can deliver fuel, leading to increased transportation costs.

He said FortisTCI has made significant investments in renewable energy sources, aligning with the Resilient National Energy Transition Strategy (R-NETS) approved by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.

The company recently installed a new dual-fuel generating unit capable of using natural gas, a lower-carbon energy source, and is awaiting the Governor’s appointment of an independent inquirer to review the reasonableness of its proposal for a rate hike.

It has also requested the appointment of an independent inquirer to review the reasonableness of its application, a process that was also followed in a previous rate dispute in 2017.

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