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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.

Crime

Following Court ruling, US Embassy Doubles Down on Warning: DO NOT TRAVEL TO TCI WITH GUNS, AMMO

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Dozens of news reports are all over TV and the internet, scarring the Turks and Caicos’ reputation yet again. This time linked to what Americans view as the preposterous law, which would, without chance for legal argument, throw a tourist into prison for 12 years.  It is a mandatory conviction law on the books for possession of unlicensed guns or ammunition, and which just heard from the Court of Appeal that there ought to be no exceptions, whether it is one bullet or one gun, whether it is a tourist or a woman.

But what policymakers in various submissions in the House of Assembly back in October thought would return a win or opportunity for leniency to be injected as part of a legal defense has backfired.  Now, unequivocally, the high court has ruled that the law gives no leeway.  Anyone found with an unlicensed gun or ammunition must face what the law says is the penalty: not a fine, no reduced prison time, no exoneration, but 12 years mandatory in His Majesty’s Prison.

Now the US Embassy is doubling down on its message to travelers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Do not travel with your legal gun and ammunition from the US to the islands. Do not, because in the islands, your right to carry arms is not automatic, and if you are caught, you will face severe punishment, and there is nothing the US government can do about it.  There are several tourists charged and awaiting a ruling in their cases.  There is also a Grand Turk businesswoman who was arrested for a single bullet in her luggage.  While all of these matters are shocking and drawing public calls for leniency, as far as the law goes, everyone charged under it is headed to prison for 12 years.

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Caribbean News

More than 300 murders in Jamaica since 2024

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

Jamaica has recorded 311 murders since the start of 2024 as of April 13, across the 19 police divisions according to the latest crime statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force. However, despite the amount of murders, this is a decrease of 14 percent compared to the same time last year.

The divisions with the highest murder counts are: St James with 41, St. Catherine South, 29; Westmoreland, 28; St. Andrew South, 25; St. Ann, 21; and Clarendon, 21. Portland has the lowest with 2 murders.

Additionally, Rapes have declined by 37 percent and break-ins by six per cent.

Meanwhile, shootings have increased by three per cent and robberies one per cent, compared to the same time last year.

 

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Crime

Aggravated Burglary

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#TurksandCaicos, April 15, 2024 – The recent aggravated robbery targeting a five-member household is undoubtedly distressing for both the victims and the community at large.

Superintendent (Division A) Willet Harvey said, “Around 11:21 pm yesterday (April 14th) evening, the Police Control Room received a report that four masked males, three of whom were armed, entered a residence at New Subdivision, Grand Turk, and proceeded to rob the occupants.

The armed suspects managed to flee the scene on foot and escaped.

“Following the report, officers were dispatched to the scene, conducted extensive searches and interviewed individuals. Based on the information received, we are actively pursuing several leads that will lead to arrests in the shortest possible time.

“The incident highlights the importance of remaining vigilant and proactively safeguarding homes and families. I advise people to enhance their home security by locking doors and windows when inside, investing in a CCTV system, and ensuring adequate outdoor lighting. Should you have any information on this burglary or illegal activities in Grand Turk, please call 946-2299. ”

The RTCIPF asks the public to notify the closest police station, contact 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477, and anonymously give any information on illegal activity.

Additionally, persons are encouraged to download the CrimeStoppers P3 app and share information.

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