From the Courts
January 17, 2014
Vincentian men freed of drug offences in BVI

Vincentians Dexter Chance, Gareth McDowall and Carlos Sutherland, who had been serving time in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for drug offences, on Monday had their convictions overturned and their sentences quashed by the East Caribbean Court of Appeal.{{more}}

Court of Appeal judges Mario Michel, David Baptiste and Ola Mae Edwards ruled that former Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens erred when she convicted the men on October 7, 2011.

On July 3, 2012, Chance was sentenced to six years imprisonment for the importation of 61 kilos cocaine to the BVI on January 23, 2008.

The men, who were extradited from St Vincent in 2010 to face trial, should have already returned to the state following their court victory.

According to the BVI Platinum News, Chance said he is not looking for any revenge on authorities, but stated that he and his co-accused were unlawfully removed from St Vincent.

“I am not looking for any revenge, I just want to get back home to my family, my children,” the newspaper quoted Chance as saying.

According to the article, Chance said the extradition process was unlawful, noting that the Court of Appeal had granted the extradition, but the authorities in St Vincent did not allow for the matter to take its course, in relation to their appeal to the Privy Council.

The men had been removed from St Vincent without their lawyers’ knowledge.

Chance also stated that it would be respectful of the authorities to refund them the money spent on legal fees during their four-year court battle.

“It [the fee] was hefty. No, I cannot disclose the amount.”

On January 23, 2008, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force seized and searched a chartered catamaran moored at Hodges Creek and found some cocaine onboard the vessel, worth over $1M.

It was alleged that Chance was the ringleader.

The article added that in the Magistrate’s Court, the crown called some 20 witnesses, including their star witness Chesley Balkaran, who pleaded guilty in 2008 in relation to the same drug bust. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Counsel Stephen Daniels appeared for Chance and Patrick Thompson appeared for Sutherland and McDowall.