Guyanese visitor guilty of immigration breach
From the Courts
January 21, 2005

Guyanese visitor guilty of immigration breach

Guyanese visitor Leon Griffith was found guilty of breaching the Immigration Regulations when he appeared before the Serious Offences Court on Wednesday.

Sergeant Cecile McMaster of the Immigration Department told the court that Griffith arrived at the E T Joshua Airport as a visitor on July 17, 2003, and was granted stay until July 24 {{more}}because he had a seven-day airline ticket. However, more than one year later, on November 16, 2004, he was arrested here for staying in the country beyond the time granted.

Griffith in his evidence said it was his first visit to this country. He admitted that he arrived here on July 17, 2003 and was granted stay until July 24. He said he did not return to Guyana before his stay expired because he had a child with a Trinidadian girl residing here and his father, Lincoln Griffith, was a Vincentian.

The older Griffith when questioned, said he was born in Guyana to a Vincentian father. He said he came to this country in 1998 and subsequently applied for and was granted a Vincentian passport. He said he has other children who were born in Guyana but have residence here.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Adolphus Delpesche contended that Leon Griffith, by his own admission, overstayed and never registered as a resident. He said that as the evidence unfolded, it was discovered that Griffith’s father was born in Guyana and not in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as claimed earlier. He said even if Leon Griffith’s grandfather was a Vincentian national it did not automatically make him a Vincentian too. He said he was required to apply for a Vincentian passport.

Chief Magistrate Simone Churaman said even in the event Griffith’s father was a Vincentian national it only gave him the right of claim to citizenship and not citizenship. She said if he wanted citizenship he would have to apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and go through the normal procedure.

The Chief Magistrate said the offence was one of strict liability and the fact that he was still in the country after the period of stay expired means he was guilty of the offence.

Defence lawyer Arthur Williams asked the court for lenience, saying his client had thrown himself at the mercy of the court. He suggested that his client be reprimanded and discharged.

On imposing sentence on Griffith, Chief Magistrate Churaman said she took into account the fact there was no record of previous conviction. She said the aggravating feature was that his period of overstaying was quite considerable.

Griffith was fined $500.00 forthwith, with an alternative sentence of three months in prison.