STATEMENT FROM THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION
On the Case Commissioner of Police v Michael Foy
3rd November, 2020
We wish to inform the public that the Defendant Michael Foy changed his plea before the Magistrate’s Court on 28th October, 2020.
To provide some background, on 8th June, 2020, the Defendant Mr. Micheal Foy was apprehended in Territorial waters off of Norman Island by Her Majesty’s Customs.
The Defendant was the captain of a commercial fishing vessel.
On board were a number of Indonesian nationals who were holders of US C11 transit visas. Those persons were repatriated to their home country.
On 8th June, 2020 three complainants were preferred against the Defendant:
- Illegal entry contrary to Section 20(3) of the Immigration Ordinance Cap 130 (as amended);
- An unlicensed and unregistered fishing vessel contrary to Section 57(b) of the Fisheries Act 1997 (as amended);
- Entering the Territory and failing to arrive at a Customs Port contrary to Section 22(1)(a).
The trial was set to commence on 9th September, 2020 but was administratively adjourned by the Magistrate’s Court, as the Government of the Virgin Islands imposed a mandatory lockdown in September 2020, as a precautionary measure against an increase of COVID-19 cases in the Territory.
The trial commenced on 5th October, 2020 and the Defendant pleaded not guilty to all three Complaints. The Defendant’s case was that he received permission to enter the BVI by local shipping agents. The Crown’s case was that the Defendant illegally entered and no shipping agent could give any permission, as they were neither the Government, the Chief Immigration nor Ministry of Health (as we are in a health pandemic).
The Territory has kept its borders closed since 22nd March, 2020 and all travel by boat and plane were prohibited.
The Crown’s witnesses supported this, and refuted the claims made by the Defendant.
Counsel for the Defendant made a submission that there was no case to answer.
The Magistrate rejected this submission and ordered that the Defendant had a case to answer for (i) llegal entry and (ii) entering the Territory and failing to arrive at a customs port.
The Magistrate ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove there was violation of the Fisheries Act 1997 (as amended). The matter was adjourned to the week of 26th October, 2020 for the Defendant to put on his case.
On 28th October, 2020 the Defendant pleaded to (i) illegal entry and (ii) failing to arrive at a customs port.
On 30th October, 2020 the Defendant was sentenced as follows:
- four months imprisonment for illegal entry, he was given time to serve as he was in custody from 8th June, 2020 to early October 2020.
- a fine of US$4,000 fine to be paid forthwith in default, six months in prison for failing to arrive at a customs port.
The vessel which was detained during the trial will be returned, as the Crown decided to not forfeit the vessel, on the grounds the vessel was the basis of the Defendant’s livelihood.