A Hispanic man who was recently caught smuggling himself on to Tortola for cigarettes was fined when he appeared before Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin on Friday.
Cargo boat employee Angel Rafael Mena Collado was fined $500 after pleading guilty to the offence of landing in the territory without leave from an Immigration officer.
He was ordered to pay the sum by Monday (November 5). He will spend 30 days at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut if he does not.
The court heard that about 2 am on October 29, police and Immigration officials apprehended Collado just as he docked at the area in Baugher’s Bay known as Fisherman’s Wharf.
When approached, Collado told authorities that he was coming from a Dominican Republic cargo boat and had no identification on him.
The court further heard that the cargo vessel he spoke of had received permission to land one hour earlier but, without the knowledge of the vessel’s captain, Collado took a dingy to shore.
He told the police that he was headed to a bar to get cigarettes and to socialise with his friends.
His attorney Leroy Jones told the court that his client is a respectable man and it was for the love of cigarettes that he decided to come ashore, despite not having clearance from an Immigration officer.
He pointed out that his client had no previous convictions, is remorseful, and was unaware of the repercussions of his actions at the time.
“It was an honest mistake,” the attorney told the court.
Should know better
However, Magistrate Benjamin said better judgement is expected of the offender who has been a constant traveller to the territory for the past 13 years.
“It is very important when you travel to various jurisdictions to abide by the law. You should have known better,” she said.
Nonetheless, Benjamin said his early guilty plea, along with his remorse were some of the mitigating factors she took into consideration when handing down the sentence.
He has been placed on remand until the fine is paid.
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