By Wilkie Arthur
Freelance Court Reporter
#TurksandCaicos, September 11, 2023 – Three men have now appeared at the Providenciales Magistrate’s Court on old airport road and are formally charged with taking a conveyance (theft of a boat) and malicious injuries to property.
The original hearing was on August 15, 2023.
Accused #1 is BERRY LEONA, a Haitian man, currently serving a sentence at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for unlawful entry. Leona appeared by video link; the two others charged with crime were present in court.
Accused #2 is JAHEAL GARDINER who was almost remanded to prison because he arrived late and had no proper explanation for the Hon. Chief Magistrate(CM) Mr. Jolyon Hatmin when he was asked about his tardiness. Gardiner, who arrived after 10am for the hearing said he was bailed to attend for 10am however, the bail papers provided to the court upon request indicated, clearly, his hearing was set for 9am on the day in question.
The Hon CM told the second accused that he takes it as an insult when persons believe they can just show up to court anytime they wish especially, when, summoned or bailed for a specific time and date.
The third man accused, VINCENT WILLIS, was not late and was in fact met at the court by the Chief Magistrate who told him he could sit inside in chairs provided there.
Gardiner was warned.
The CM adjourned the matter to Tuesday August 29th and the trio was back in court today, September 11 under Magistrate 11, as there continues to be a number of areas surrounding the allegations which lack clarity.
At the August 29th hearing however, Jaheal Gardiner could not meet the reduced bail of $2,500 and is being held in police custody. Gardiner told the judge that he was unaware that the boat was stolen.
All have entered a not guilty plea with only Willis able to meet his bail.
Damage to the boat, owned by Quincy Jennings, was estimated to around $4,300.
The trio was arrested at sea on June 29, 2023 in an alleged TCI registered, stolen boat.
Fleet expansion for inter-Caribbean Airways
#TurksandCaicos, September 24, 2023 – Another new aircraft has been added to the InterCaribbean Airways fleet and it’s already in the air. The Bombardier CRJ 700 series aircraft, which seats 70 passengers is one of the company’s larger aircraft and comes after the acquisition of a 68-seater ATR 72-500 in August.
The company says the twin-engine jet aircraft is outfitted with an onboard bathroom and two flight attendants and will ‘provide new opportunities for expanding air service in the region.’
The Turks and Caicos based airline company has faced harsh criticism from its various destinations for delays, cancellations and poor communication with government ministers calling for improved service.
In July, Chairman Lyndon Gardiner reported on additions to the fleet and asked for patience as he and his team enhanced the interCaribbean Airways travel experience.
“In June of this year, interCaribbean Airways added an additional seven ATR-42’s to their fleet. These new, larger aircraft are beginning to transition into service over the next weeks and months. Additionally, the company is implementing a robust backend communication system to enhance passenger notifications and proactively inform travelers when their flights are delayed or cancelled,” he had said.
This newest announcement about the Bombardier got mixed reactions, when shared on Facebook. They ranged from congratulations to cautious hope.
“So, is the running late and abandoning people resolved as well????” one commenter asked.
“With all these updates and upgrades, I hope we won’t be canceling and stranded on islands,” said another.
“Excellent interCaribbean Airways. I believe in you despite all the mishaps…YOU CAN DO THIS!” a commenter expressed.
Another commenter said “20 additional seats, great move.”
The aircraft arrived in Providenciales, on Sunday 17th, and was immediately shuffled into the roster with its first flight on Monday, September 18th.
Grand Turk drops in Rank for Cruising, Port profits down; Still Optimism High after major meeting with Carnival
#TurksandCaicos, September 24, 2023 – A Tuesday night Town Hall meeting with Carnival Cruises has left Grand Turk residents feeling hopeful, even though concerning statistics were revealed according to attendees who spoke with Magnetic Media.
The Grand Turk Cruise Centre is apparently not as profitable, and the Grand Turk Port, we are told, has dropped out of the top 10 ports in terms of positive customer experience. Contributing to that rating drop are incidents involving illicit drugs and fighting.
Carnival, as the country’s major cruise partner, brings the vast majority of tourists into the Turks and Caicos Islands; they’re coming in via the Grand Turk Cruise Center. A recurring complaint from tourists for years has been the lack of activities and excursions for residents when they arrive in the country’s capital.
Aimed at discussing an increase in onshore activities for guests and bumping up the port rating, the well-attended town meeting was described by residents as “the most engaged and informative meeting involving Carnival top brass and high-level government officials.”
The Office of the Premier, on Wednesday reported, “Yesterday evening, the Premier, Honourable Charles Washington Misick, along with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG), Carnival Corporation & plc, Grand Turk Cruise Centre (GTCC), and partners hosted an engaging town hall meeting with citizens and GTCC stakeholders. The crux of the town hall event was to address the impact of the Grand Turk Cruise Centre on Grand Turk.
The panellists provided thorough insights on future GTCC developments, including a partnership between the TCIG and the Carnival Corporation to implement a sustainable recycling program. They also advocated for the partnership with citizens to see further GTCC and infrastructural improvement. They highlighted business opportunities for locals to engage with Carnival to see an increase in revenue and guest satisfaction for the island of Grand Turk.
Citizens who attended were allowed to interact with the panellists by asking further questions on the presentations, expressing their concerns, and proposing valuable feedback and ideas on issues raised.”
Not only did Carnival Cruise Line executives confirm over 1.1 million visitors to Grand Turk in 2024, our news team was told the representatives appeared determined to make sure locals benefitted.
“There appears to be genuine concern for enhancing the relationship with vendors and providing additional auxiliary services. They emphasized that the goal is not to keep guests from exploring the town,” one resident explained.
The company now wants more vendors stationed at the Downtown Carnival Center. It will come at a cost to locals but that fee is described as ‘nominal’.
Managing public beach access is properly, once again, being assessed as Carnival revealed they are working with the Government to increase security solutions including sniffer dogs which can detect contraband.
A recycling initiative is also on the table to help rid the quaint oceanside town of the waste created by tourism. It was suggested that empty shipping containers on cargo ships heading back to the US could be utilized to ferry out the accumulated rubbish.
We are told several politicians and concerned citizens fielded important questions to the representatives ranging from better coordination of ship schedules to maintaining the cleanliness of beaches.
Residents told us that though some were skeptical about the promises made during the gathering, an air of optimism could be felt.
U.S. Embassy UPDATES Travel Advisory, Warning against taking Guns & Ammo to TCI
By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, September 4, 2023 – After judges and attorneys in the Turks and Caicos vocalized their concern over the number of American tourists arrested for breach of firearms laws, there comes a notable change in the Travel Advice from the US Embassy, based in Nassau, Bahamas.
Too many arrests and too many convictions of American visitors to Turks and Caicos over guns and ammunition, including a man, who was this week sentenced to 8 months in prison, have resulted in a sensible notice.
“To avoid U.S. citizens facing arrest in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) for bringing firearms, ammunition, or other weapons into the country, U.S. Embassy Nassau updated the TCI Travel.State.Gov page to reflect the criminal penalties attached to traveling unlawfully with such weapons,” said a media release issued on Friday September 22.
The advice is clearly warning US citizens not to take their guns and ammo into the TCI, where unless you are licensed by local law enforcement, it is illegal with a mandatory jail term of 12 years.
In late March, David O’Connor was found with 44 rounds of ammunition while exiting the Turks and Caicos Islands. In May, O’Connor was sentenced and fined between five to six thousands
Most recently, the defendant was not so fortunate and in this case was sentenced to time in Grand Turk Prison. Michael Grim was arrested in early August, caught at the airport exiting with 20 rounds of ammunition. He was on Monday September 19, sentenced to eight months in prison with his parents looking on in the courtroom.
It is expected further action would come in defence of Grim; possibly an appeal.
Now, the United States, which is partnered with the Caribbean islands in efforts to curb firearms movement into the countries has outlined, what travellers to the TCI need to keep in mind, even if they are legal gun owners in the United States.
“… that declaring a weapon in your luggage with an airline carrier does not grant permission to bring the weapon into TCI and will result in arrest.”
A tab on the Travel.Gov.State website is also newly created to support giving accurate information to travellers to the TCI.
Interestingly, the U.S. Embassy also warns that if travellers disregard the advice and are arrested in the Turks and Caicos on firearms offences, they will not be able to get them out of trouble.
“If a U.S. citizen illegally brings a firearm or ammunition into TCI, U.S. Embassy Nassau will not be able to secure their release from custody. The website reminds U.S. citizens that all foreign nationals are subject to TCI laws and must follow local law enforcement procedures.
However, if you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.”
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