BVI News

No entry for attorney! Trial for $30M cocaine bust delayed again

From left: Simon, Browne, Vargas, and Ybarbia. (BVI News photo)

The trial of four men accused of importing $30.9 million worth of cocaine has been further delayed; this time because the lead attorney for three of the men was not granted entry into the territory.

Locals Nickel Simon and Cryton Browne along with Venezuelans Wilferedo Lopez Vargas and Hober Morillo Ybarbia all appeared before Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin on Monday, October 12 to commence trial.

However, a court adjournment was sought because senior legal counsel, Chesley Oneal Hamilton of St Kitts & Nevis was not approved by the relevant authorities to land in the territory.

Hamilton, along with defence attorney Leroy Jones, represent Browne, Vargas and Ybarbia.

Letter to Health and Immigration ministers

Seeking a later trial date, Jones told the court the October 12 to 14 trial dates was initially set back in July under the expectation that the territory would have reopened by October 1.

But after Premier Andrew Fahie announced the territory’s reopening date would be on December 1, Jones said a letter dated September 9, 2020, was written to the Minister of Health Carvin Malone. Both the Minister of Immigration Vincent Wheatley and Senior Crown Counsel O’Neal Simpson were copied on the document.

According to Jones, the letter was requesting permission to have Hamilton flown into the territory from St Kitts and Nevis on October 10 or 11, and outlined the intended purpose behind the request.

No response from Health and Immigration ministers, court hears 

Jones told the court the letter outlined that Hamilton would arrive in the territory with all the necessary COVID-19 negative documentation from tests conducted prior to the trip.

But up till the court appearance on Monday, Jones said he was yet to receive any response from the email sent to Minister Malone.

He also said that after the Immigration Department had approved a temporary work permit for Hamilton in July, he was later informed that the process for the permit had been halted. 

After making numerous trips to the department, Jones said he was told the reissuing of work permits may recommence within the new year.

Prosecutor, other defence attorney ready

Meanwhile, Reynela Rawlins — the attorney representing the fourth accused man, Simon — told the court that she was concerned about the request for yet another adjournment and wished the matter to proceed as she was fully prepared to commence trial.

Also wishing to have proceedings commenced was Crown Counsel Kael London who said he too was prepared to start trial.

After hearing the arguments from all parties, Magistrate Benjamin ruled that the three accused must be permitted fair representation since they had requested Hamilton to be their lead attorney.

She then set a date for the trial to commence from January 18 to 20.

This is the second reported delay into the trial for a drug bust that happened in October 2019.

READ: A previous delay

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18 Comments

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  1. Leveller says:

    why are foreign attorneys allowed in? What’s wrong with the local crowd? BVIFirst!

    Like 20
    Dislike 36
  2. aiR says:

    Chesley Hamilton?? That’s a big lawyer right there!

    Like 12
  3. lol says:

    Dem jumbee wukking

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  4. QC says:

    Jones aint big enough?

  5. Interesting says:

    Are these lawyers checking the source of the funds used to pay their bills? Cause it smells like proceeds of criminal conduct… Hope their doing their AML checks! lol

    Like 9
    Dislike 8
  6. Just Asking says:

    Man in the green shirt is a splitting image of someone else.

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  7. Four years says:

    That case will be going on for at least 4 years that’s just how the bvi judiciary system works.

    Like 9
    Dislike 3
  8. HOUSE OWNER says:

    WE LIVE IN EUROPE AND SPEND ONE MILLION ON A NICE HOUSE LAST YEAR, NOT TAKING THE JOB FROM ANYONE. WE GIVE JOBS TO THE LOCALS TO MAINTAIN OUR HOUSE AND WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COME TO THE BVI. SO WHY SHOULD A LAWYER BE PERMITTED TO COME FROM OVERSEES TO GET SOME MAJOR CROOKS OUT OF PRISON.
    THE BVI HAS A LOT OF QUALIFIED LOCAL LAWYERS OR LONG TIME RESIDENTS, WHO CAN GIVE THEM A FAIR TRIAL.
    I HOPE THIS GUY WILL NOT GET PERMISSION TO ENTER BEFORE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD HAVE FULL RIGHTS TO ENTER, CAN COME

    Like 3
    Dislike 10
    • Reply says:

      Anyone accused of a crime has a right to a defense lawyer of their own choosing if they can pay their own legal fees. This has nothing to do with taking away jobs from locals as you have erroneously insinuated.

      The government cannot and should not interfere with that right. Its called having a fair trial.

      If the defendants were indigent and requested legal counsel from the court then its expected such legal counsel will be provided from local lawyers.

      The fact that for whatever reason as per you that you are unable to reenter the country has no bearing on a lawyer who was hired to represent his clients. Its their rights, and a totally inappropriate comparison.

      You clearly have prejudged these defandants as ‘crooks’ and erroneously conflated your situation with theirs.

      You need to know that everyone deserves a fair trial, and no one has been convicted of anything they have been accused of. That’s what their trial is there for. They may be found innocent or the case falls apart as is so common in the BVI with high profile cases.

      The crowns conviction rate on these kinds of cases has been quite often less than one would expect. Many similarly accused has walked away.

      Finally, why are you yelling? That is typing in all caps. People normally don’t read all cap posts, but I thought that your post which is prejudicial on so many levels warranted a response.

      Like 10
      Dislike 1
  9. Esteemed says:

    A $30m drugs trial being prosecuted by a 2 year qualified lawyer. Does the DPP go to Court anymore?

    Like 2
    Dislike 2

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