What is believed to be the first-ever pollution-related case in the British Virgin Islands was dismissed in the High Court last Tuesday, March 17.
Rey Rodriguez and Anand Lettsome were charged with the offence of pollution, which reportedly occurred on August 15, 2013.
The men were accused of “recklessly vitiating the atmosphere by causing oil to flow into a drain, thereby causing the air to become noxious to the discomfort of persons in Road Town”.
What was alleged
The court heard that on the day in question, the duo — who were employees of Triple L Company — visited the Water & Sewerage pump station in Road Town to dispose of sewerage, as was customary.
The court heard that the men reportedly placed the hose from their truck into the overflow pipe — instead of the correct waste chamber — and discharged what was believed to be oil, among other forms of waste.
The matter was reported to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, who then launched an investigation and subsequently charged the men with the offence.
At the conclusion of their trial — which saw testimonies from employees of the Department of Disaster Management and the Water & Sewerage Department — the accused men’s attorney, Stephen Daniels, submitted a no-case submission to the court.
Daniels argued that the Crown failed to lead any evidence that the ambient air was contaminated with pollutants after the alleged oil spill.
He said it was the Crown’s duty to test the atmosphere for any pollution, which they failed to do.
On that basis, High Court Judge Trevor Ward upheld the no-case submission.
If the men had been convicted, they would have faced a maximum of 14 years at Her Majesty’s Prison or slapped with a maximum $75,000 fine.
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