STATEMENT FROM OFFICE OF DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Four Persons Plead Guilty for Entering BVI Illegally While Sea Borders Remain Closed
The public is advised that the matter of Nicholas Cancro, John Hines Jr, Lynee Ann Hines and Jeanne McKinnon who were apprehended by the Joint Task Force on the 19th November, 2020 was heard before Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin at 2:00 p.m. on 1st December, 2020.
The Accused were charged with Illegal Entry without the permission of an Immigration Officer Contrary to Section 20 (3) of the Immigration Ordinance, Chapter 130 of the Laws of the Virgin Islands, which is a strict liability offence.
Crown Counsel Kristain Johnson represented the case for the Prosecution.
The Accused were represented by Counsel David Penn, who stated to the Magistrate that he did not wish to have the Accused plead, and he only wanted the complaints read to them for them to plead at a later date. The complaints were read to the Accused by the Magistrate and the Crown outlined the allegations as follows:
On Thursday, 19th November 2020 at about 01:30 p.m. HM Customs received information of a sailing vessel traveling from St. John, United States Virgin Islands towards Jost Van Dyke. As a result of the report made, the Joint-Task Force proceeded to the western side of Jost Van Dyke.
At about 02:04 p.m. in the vicinity of Sopher’s Hole (Steel Point) a blue sailing vessel was observed traveling in an easterly direction and was located at 18’ 23.885N 064’ 44.041W, which is in the Territorial waters of the Virgin Islands.
The captain was Mr. Nicholas Cancro, and was accompanied by John Hines, Lynn Hines and Jeanne McKinnon.
When asked where he was coming from Mr. Cancro replied “We came from St. John, USVI and was just sailing around.”
The law enforcement officers then informed the captain that they are in BVI waters and that the borders are closed to international vessels.
Mr. Cancro—the captain—stated, “I know the borders are closed, but we didn’t touch land.”
The captain was then informed that it appeared that he was in breach of the Territory’s laws, and was guided to Sopher’s Hole, West End. The four individuals were then placed into mandatory quarantine in a local hotel as part of COVID-19 preventative measures.
An application for bail was made on the behalf of all the Accused.
The Crown objected to bail on the basis that the Accused persons were not from the Territory and they were considered to be flight risks, and there was a high probability that they would not return to the Territory to stand trial and that there were no conditions that could have been given by the Court to ensure that the Accused persons would attend.
The Court who has sole jurisdiction with the granting of bail made the decision that bail would be denied as there are no suitable conditions to ensure the presence of the Accused, they were deemed as flight risks as they have no ties to the Territory.
After this decision was announced, Counsel Penn asked the Court for the matter to be stood down so he may take further instructions from the Accused persons.
When Court resumed the Accused persons entered a plea to guilty and were each subsequently sentenced to pay a fine of US$1000.00.