Two men accused of illegal entry as well as assisting and harbouring 28 illegal immigrants in the territory are facing a possible fine of up to $100,000 or 10-years imprisonment if found guilty of the crimes.
The two men, 31-year-old Danny Deniville of Hope Hill and 27-year-old Kaseani Skelton of West End, were denied bail by Magistrate Tamia Richards when they appeared in the Magistrate’s Court today.
Another accused, Jerome Hopkins Jr of Baughers Bay, was only charged with assisting and harbouring illegal immigrants was granted bail.
Hopkins Jr received bail in the sum of $40,000 and he was ordered by Magistrate Richards to provide the exact location of his house so they can have a GPS image of the location. He also has to abide by a daily curfew of 6 pm to 6 am.
The court was told that Deniville and Skelton reportedly assisted with the illegal entry of 28 persons on November 20, 2021. It was said the immigrants had paid for passage from St Maarten to St John in the US Virgin Islands.
However, the four-hour journey they were promised turned into 18 hours after the boat developed mechanical issues. Instead of going to St John, the boat landed in BVI waters and the boat captain contacted both Deniville and Skelton for help to transport them onto land.
The 28 persons were then allegedly transported to the residence of Hopkins Jr in Baughers Bay.
The court was told that Skelton and Deniville indicated to the immigrants it would cost an additional $1,000 for the journey from BVI to St John. The prosecution alleged several Brazilian nationals were able to pay the money and as a result, they only spent one night in the territory and was transported to St John the following day.
The court was further told Hopkins Jr made several visits to his property and charged $100 per person for each night of occupancy. It was also alleged that the three accused colluded to get additional money from the remaining immigrants.
The prosecution alleged Deniville collected cash via Western Union on behalf of the immigrants. Skelton also handed over money collected from the immigrants to Hopkins Jr according to the prosecution.
The prosecution noted there was a growing concern between the three men of some of the immigrant’s inability to pay for the cost of housing and the money for the trip to St John.
The court was also informed that Hopkins Jr had reported to the police that he rented his apartment to two Spanish men and he discovered they had Haitian nationals staying there illegally.
When the police conducted a raid on the apartment, the court was told they caught 14 immigrants and three had escaped. There were seven Venezuelans, six Haitians and one Peruvian found at the premises in Baughers Bay.
The immigrants, who were taken in custody, gave evidence to the police and identified Deniville and Skelton as the men who brought them on Virgin Islands land, the court was told.
The two men, according to the prosecution, had partially admitted to some of the offences while being questioned by police.
The court was told that the Crown is looking to bring an additional charge against Deniville — obtaining property by deception. The accused is said to have been on bail for an unrelated matter in relation to breach of curfew and illegal entry. Stephen Daniels is his attorney.
Skelton and Hopkins Jr are being represented by Leroy Jones and Valerie Stephens-Gordon, respectively. The matter has been adjourned until January 12 when the accused men will answer to the charges.
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