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Judge stuns, sentences “irresponsible” Indiana tourist to 8 Months in Prison for Ammo Possession

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Reporter

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 24, 2023 – His lordship The Hon Mr. Justice Chris Selochan in passing sentence on 18th September, 2023 on an American tourist MICHEAL ALLAN GRIM, JR, told the defendant, that his starting point for possession of 20 rounds of illegal 9mm ammunition found in his luggage was a sentence of five years Imprisonment.

The ammunition was picked up on the scanners at the Providenciales International Airport on August 1, 2023.

The announcement by the judge brought obvious despair and disbelief for the 26-year old in the defendant’s dock and his family seated in the public gallery; the heart sinking admission elicited what could only be described as an audible pause from the courtroom.

However, the five year sentence, was not the final sentence and the judge went on to articulate his reasoning for giving the young man a substantial discount:  A. You’ve pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity on 13th September, 2023; B. You have impeccable good character;  C. You provide this court with a number of impressive references from high standard members of your community; D. You purchased and possess the ammo legally in your home state of Indiana and E. You did not try to conceal the ammunition.

There were other points provided by the accused’s King’s Counsel representative, Oliver Smith that warranted and assisted with the reduction.

The learned judge outlined them all in detail at the sentencing hearing and promised to put his reasons in writing and make them available for the parties at a later date. The learned Judge said not every case involving tourists are the same and that there should be no immediate custodial sentence (no jail time).  He said that each case must be looked at separately and on its own merit, as each may have different circumstances.

He went on to explain that not because he found that there are exceptional circumstances in this case to depart from the mandatory minimum of 12 years imprisonment means that this defendant should not do some sort of jail time.

The Judge explained that Grim said he knew he could not have brought ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).  He had three opportunities to at least declare the ammo but failed to do so.  One when leaving the USA, two when arrived at the Providenciales International Airport in Providenciales and three before being captured by the scanners on his departure from Providenciales.

The judge further said and even while on vacation in the TCI you failed to secure the ammunition properly. The judge said I have to take into account the serious firearm and ammunition issues we are now facing in these Islands.

Justice Selochan told the defendant you demonstrated a clear sense of irresponsibility and negligence throughout and unlike the other cases (judge cited or named a few local and international cases) involving tourist, this particular matter warrants a custodial sentence.

Having regards to all the factors and circumstances in this case, and the very impressive submissions by both sides, Principal Public Prosecutor Mr. Clement Joseph assisted by Senior Pubic Prosecutor Mrs. Nayasha Hatmin for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutor and Mr. Oliver Smith, KC for the defendant, I must express my sincere thank you in the manner you assisted this court.

The judge concluded by announcing, the sentence of the court is eight (8) months imprisonment, the defendant passport is to be returned to him at the completion of the sentence and a destruction order made for the ammunition.

Mr. Oliver Smith, KC, in a final attempt to keep his client out of prison, asked the judge if he would consider suspending the sentence. The judge said I did consider it but decided this is not the appropriate case for a suspended sentence.

Michael Grim Jr was arrested in early August for the ammunition detected in his luggage, and at one point faced bail in the amount of $10,000 for the offence which carries a 12 year mandatory jail term.

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Demolition coming as South Base to Undergo Testing for Asbestos

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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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RBC donates $175,000 to Hurricane Beryl relief efforts

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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 www.redcross.ca or the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org.

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FortisTCI makes a case for Rate Increase in Media Meeting

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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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