The two Venezuelans recently charged for overstaying have each been fined $1,000 and will be deported once the fines are paid.
Their matter was brought before Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin via a virtual hearing on Monday, October 5.
Fifty-nine-year-old Dannys Rodriguez Robles – a retired seaport security guard – and 54-year-old Emerais Lopez Leiva – an electrician – were slapped with the fine after pleading guilty to the offence.
They were supposed to departure the territory before November 19, last year.
What the court heard happened
Presenting the facts of the case before Magistrate Benjamin was Crown Council Kael London.
He said both Robles and Leiva entered into the territory by plane in September 2019 where they stayed at Maria’s by the Sea hotel before relocating to Anderson Hill Estate on Tortola.
On Sunday, September 27, 2020, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force — who were acting on information of suspicious illegal activity at their residence — executed a number of warrants around 8 am where both Robles and Leiva were apprehended.
During a search of the premises, law enforcers discovered that neither of the accused were in possession of a passport. Under caution, both men indicated that their passports were stolen by a friend and they allegedly admitted that they had overstayed their landing permission.
They were subsequently arrested under suspicion of overstaying and taken to the Road Town Police Station.
Confirmed legal entry
Further investigations by the RVIPF in collaboration with immigration confirmed that both men had indeed entered the BVI legally, but showed that there was no extension for change of their Immigration status.
During a subsequent police interview, the accuse persons admitted to overstaying in the territory.
Argument by defense attorney for non-custodial sentence
With no previous convictions in Venezuela or the BVI, their attorney Leroy Jones asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence.
While noting that the offences were indeed serious, Jones said his clients had no intentions of wasting the court’s time as they cooperated with the relevant authorities and even admitted guilt at the earliest possible opportunity.
He further said both of his clients were very sorry for breaking the law and revealed to the court that travel arrangements were organised to have the two males deported back to Venezuela once a fine was paid.
He said that Robles is a father of three while Leiva is a husband and a father of 10.
In considering the attorney’s arguments, Magistrate Benjamin ordered the men to pay the fines forthwith.
If the fine is not paid, both men will serve two months in prison.
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