US Virgin Islands resident, Bryan Bolan has been sentenced to less than a year in prison and fined a collective sum of $2,000 for illegal entry and breaking the curfew.
Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards handed down the sentence during a virtual sitting of the Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
For the offence of the Breach of Curfew, Bolan will spend 45 days at Her Majesty’s Prison. That sentence will retroactively take effect from the date he was first placed on remand.
He was also fined $1,000. In default of not paying, the offender will serve two months at the adult penitentiary.
For the illegal entry offence, he received an eight-month custodial sentence plus a $1,000 fine. He will spend another two months at the prison if he fails to pay that fine.
All his sentences are to run consecutively, meaning one after the other. He had pleaded guilty to both offences during a previous court appearance.
Sentencing deferred for local involved in smuggling
Meanwhile, his co-accused Tambu Frett — BVIslander who pleaded guilty to Breach of Curfew, Illegal Entry and Smuggling — will be sentenced on April 30.
His matter was postponed to iron out a few details relating to his alleged involvement in a smuggling operation between the USVI and the BVI.
What the court heard happened
The court heard that around 2 pm on April 3, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) received information pertaining to Frett.
As a result, the Marine and Intelligence units of the RVIPF proceeded to commence surveillance operations in separate locations.
Acting Director of Public Prosecution Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit told the court that the officers reported that they witnessed a rubber dinghy leaving the Baughers Bay Marina dock with a sole occupant around 4 pm.
The boat was further observed heading towards Peter Island before turning in the direction of Norman Island before heading to St John, USVI.
The vessel then passed Flanagan Island and disappeared behind St John, the court heard.
This information was reported to the RVIPF Marine Base where officers proceeded by boat towards St John and waited in the channel between St John and Flanagan Island.
While at that location, they observed the same dinghy travelling on the back of St John heading towards Norman Island with two occupants on board.
The court further heard that police pursued the dinghy and signalled it to stop using its siren and lights, but the captain did not stop and increased its speed of the boat.
The vessel was eventually intercepted in BVI waters outside the Pirate’s Bight on Norman Island with Frett captaining the boat and Bolan in the passenger seat.
The Acting DPP said officers searched the boat, but nothing illegal was found. The men were also searched. Frett had $5,700 in his backpack while Bolan had $6,020 in his pants pocket.
They were subsequently arrested and cautioned.
The court heard that Frett — a 37-year-old resident of Little Dix Hill — claimed he went to Jost Van Dyke (JVD) where he was socialising when he met Bolan who asked him for a lift to Tortola.
During a police interview, Frett gave several stories, such as going to JVD because he was ‘bored’. He later admitted that he went around Flanagan Island and St John looking for dinghies.
During Bolan’s interview, he claimed to have a girlfriend living in Greenland, who was insisting for him to come to see her because she did not want to spend 14 curfew days by herself.
Bolan further claimed that the cash that was found on him was from working at the Nest Bar in Huntums Ghut. However, he admitted that he did not have a work permit. The men stopped cooperating with police when they were asked who could verify that they were on Jost Van Dyke.
Send him back!
The Acting DPP said due to the high volume of Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) cases in the USVI — which has resulted in including one death — and the lack of stringent measures on their borders like the BVI, she wants Bolan to be slapped with the maximum fine and ‘immediately repatriated’ back to the USVI.
Addressing the court, both men said they were sorry for breaking the laws. Leroy Jones represents Frett, while Stacy Abel represents Bolan.