The two St Vincent residents who were implicated for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition last year have been acquitted.
Former Operations Manager Warren Mitchell and former boat captain Martin Lee were found not guilty of the charges on Friday.
In handing down the verdict, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards said she was satisfied the duo had no knowledge of the contraband when local authorities discovered the items aboard their vessell, Tenacity 1, while it was docked in Port Purcell on Tortola.
The weapon was found in a cardboard box addressed to ‘Dale Davis of Kingstown, St Vincent’. Magistrate Richards noted that no one could prove how the box was smuggled on to Tenacity 1.
She said, not only was the box not addressed to either of the formerly accused men, but the intended owner was never found by the Vincentian authorities.
While underscoring the size of the boat, Richards said, ‘it is possible and likely’ that the package could easily have been secreted aboard without the knowledge of Mitchell or Lee.
“You are free to go,” she told the St Vincent boaters.
Prosecutors were claiming that the men were the authoritative figures on the vessel and, as such, were responsible for any cargo on board.
But, in their defence, the Mitchell and Lee said poor security procedures by the BVI Ports Authority were to be blamed for their dilemma.
They told the court that persons were freely allowed to pass through the security checkpoint at Port Purcell, most times without their cargo being inspected.
Following the find on January 20 last year, the two were arrested. Mitchell had received bail while Lee remained on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.
Attorney Stacy Abel represented Mitchell while attorney-at-law Michael Maduro represented Lee.
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