Though stating that he has years of experience and training as a boat captain, US Virgin Islands (USVI) native Jarvis Hodge said he did not know he had to declare a firearm when he sails in international waters.
Hodge and his passenger Derrick Callwood are before the Magistrate’s Court for not declaring a gun while they travelled into the British Virgin Islands (BVI) last November.
The weapon was found aboard the vessel ‘Inter Caribbean Ferry Service’ that operates between the BVI and USVI.
While he testified before Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards this week, Hodge said he did not declare the weapon “because the firearm was not coming off the vessel”.
“Your Honour, I made an honest mistake that I wasn’t aware of,” Hodge said.
He told the court that, roughly two minutes after he departed for the BVI on the day in question, he was radioed to turn back for two additional passengers in the USVI.
The passengers were Callwood who is a police officer in the USVI, and Callwood’s girlfriend.
Hodge testified that, while he sailed towards Jost Van Dyke in the BVI, Callwood informed him that he was carrying his licensed firearm.
“I said: What! Are you crazy? Bring it up to me, disarm it, and secure it,” Hodge told the court, adding that the weapon was kept in his bag located in the captain’s quarters of the vessel.
The cop then gave Hodge instructions to bring the weapon back into the USVI. Hodge said he agreed.
The boat captain further testified that, when he arrived at Jost Van Dyke in the BVI, no Customs officer asked if he had anything to declare.
He said he then sailed to his next stop, which is the West End Ferry Terminal on Tortola.
Hodge told the court that Customs officers in West End accosted him about the firearm.
He stated that, when he was asked about the weapon, he immediately admitted to having it.
He said a Customs officer told him that he should have declared the gun at Jost Van Dyke.
The boat captain said he then asked to be allowed to declare the weapon in West End, but the officer told him it was ‘too late’.
Hodge told the court that he will never accept another firearm from a passenger, regardless of the circumstances.
Meanwhile, the USVI cop, Callwood, has opted to adopt the testimony of his co-accused, Hodge.
Both men are being represented by attorney-at-law Stephen Daniels.
Magistrate Richards is expected to deliver a verdict in the gun case on October 3.