The trial for the $30.9 million cocaine bust which occurred on Virgin Gorda on October 27 last year has been delayed at the Magistrate’s Court because the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) was not ready.
The three-day trial was expected to begin before Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste DaBreo on Wednesday.
However, an attorney representing the ODPP – who was temporarily handling the matter for another counsel who had primary conduct of the case – informed the court that after reviewing the file, certain items were missing.
The Crown counsel said photographic evidence that was taken by the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, a statement from a Customs Officer and another statement to go along with surveillance footage of the incident in question were all missing.
The second reason given by the Crown was that they were still awaiting word from the US Justice Department for two officers — who were part of the drug bust — to testify via video link.
The prosecuting attorney said they were therefore not sure when they would be able to take the testimonies of the USVI law enforcers.
“On that basis, I am asking for an adjournment,” the Crown counsel told the court.
Meanwhile, the defence attorneys involved in the case stated that they were not pleased with the delay.
Attorney-at-law Chesley Oneal Hamilton, who was brought in from St Kitts to assist attorney-at-law Leroy Jones with the trial said common courtesy and decency should have been extended to the defence bearing in mind that he was travelling from abroad.
“We are ready to proceed,” he maintained.
Hamilton and Jones were representing three of the four defendants, namely government accountant Cryton Browne and Venezuelan nationals Wilferedo Lopez Vargas and Hober Morillo Ybarbia.
The attorney for Nickel Simon — Reynela Rawlins — told the court that she was concerned about the request for an adjournment and wished the matter to proceed.
She said the Crown could start the trail with the local witnesses.
In response, Magistrate DaBreo agreed that the Crown should have communicated the hurdles they were being faced with.
She further said her concern over the adjournment was that she could not do any trials after June and did not want to commence a trial and not conclude it.
She said if this happens, the defendants would be disadvantaged as the trial would have to recommence before another magistrate.
The then matter was adjourned to March 11.