US Virgin Islands (USVI) resident Bryan Bolan was reportedly smuggled into the British Virgin Islands to spend the 14-day lockdown with his pregnant girlfriend, the Magistrate’s Court has been told.
Bolan, who was charged with Breach of Curfew and Illegal Entry pleaded guilty to those offences alongside BVIslander Tambu Frett who pleaded guilty to Breach of Curfew, Illegal Entry and Smuggling.
The men made appearances before Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards via a Zoom call in a makeshift courtroom at the Road Town Police Station on Monday.
They are scheduled to reappear on Tuesday for sentencing.
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, 37, a Little Dix Hill resident and heavy equipment operator, claimed he went to Jost Van Dyke (JVD) where he was ‘liming’ 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 was reportedly evasive and refused to answer pertinent questions, Scatliffe-Esprit said.
He insisted that he was on JVD and claimed to be in the territory from March 12, but the latest Immigration stamp in his passport revealed that he came into the BVI on that day and was given up till March 16.
He also 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 also 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.
“I want to say I am sorry for what I did. I just wanted to get to the house to be with her for the 14 day period … because if anything happened to her, she had no one to help her. I’m sorry and I beg for your mercy,” Bolan said.
His co-accused, Frett said: “I am very sorry for what I did. I am sorry to the government, to the court, to the police officers. I am not a bad guy, I try my best to be as good as I can be.”
He continued: “It was a friend of a friend who told me that he needed to come over. It was no payment or nothing like that. My friend needed help. I know I was wrong … please don’t give me no custodial sentence. I promise you will not see me in this kind of place again.”
Leroy Jones represents Frett, while Stacy Abel represents Bolan.
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