The two West End women allegedly caught with more than 700 grams of cannabis and $24,980 three months ago have been slapped with an additional charge.
Initially, 39-year-old Caroline Hodge-Clarke and 22-year old
They were not made to plead to that additional charge when they appeared before Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo last week.
The court heard that due to the circumstances under which the aforesaid
$24,980 cash was found, the inference was drawn that the money was likely to be proceeds of crime.
This inference was made despite defence attorney Nelson Samuel providing payment slips from different construction firms and other employers who could vouch that the funds were legitimately earned by the duo.
Should the cash be detained?
During the accused women’s latest court appearance last week, the Crown (prosecutors) and the defence were at loggerheads over the detainment of the said funds.
The Crown argued they had made an oral application for the funds to be detained when the accused women were first arraigned back in December.
They further argued that the then sitting Magistrate Shawn Innocent accepted the application and requested that it be done in writing. A subsequent written application was done on December 18
However, the defence disputed that claim of the oral application. The court, however, was unable to retrieve its recording to determine whether the Crown had in fact made the oral application.
As such, both the Crown and the defence are now required to provide previous court cases where no applications were made for the detention of an accused person’s cash.
The funds will remain in police custody until the court is able to decide on the way forward. The accused women will return to court on April 16.
The court heard that police, acting on a tip, intercepted the accused women who were driving in Hannah’s Estate area of Tortola.
Hodge-Clarke was the driver while Varlack was a passenger in the vehicle, the court heard.
During the search, police uncovered the drugs in their possession totalling to 741 grams with a street value of $7,410.
One day later armed with a search warrant, the cash was found at their Belmont home in a single bag behind a mirror in the bedroom of the house.
When questioned, Hodge-Clarke reportedly told police: “That’s my life savings.”
The court heard that Varlack added: “Officer, we worked hard for that money doing all kinds of jobs.”
Police also found another four grams of cannabis which Hodge-Clark allegedly claimed as her own.
The drugs and the money were confiscated for investigation purposes.
Attorney Nelson Samuel and Stephen Daniels represent the accused women.
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