Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards’ discretion in the drug case concerning David Straker, 45, Donald George, 44, Anderson Flax II, 23, and Lindon Chiverton, 30, is under question by Defense Attorney Mr. Marlon Gordon, after the court declared its stance on several matters.
Gordon, who is representing Straker, George and Chiverton, appeared in court yesterday, March 15 as the trial into the matter continued. Flax is represented by Patrick Thompson.
During yesterday’s proceedings, the defense objected to an application made by the crown to allow evidence to be entered through a third party. The crown’s application sought to offer photographic evidence taken by an individual, who was noted to be unreachable, through an officer attached to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Detective Constable Thomas Himbury.
Gordon told the court, in his opinion, “Evidence should not go through another party unless the maker of the album has been established by evidence of the crown to be unavailable.”
Gordon continued, “We understand that the evidence is relevant, but doesn’t mean it has to be permitted. We have to be fair. Can Himbury respond to questions as to how they [pictures] were produced, challenge photographs, integrity of the process, who did what and so on?...It’s a sneaky behavior.”
The application was granted in the crown's favor, as the court explained that questions can be properly put to the witness for his response.
This response from the court caused the Defense Attorney to begin a rant. He was silenced then by the court, to which he stated, “We are not being allowed to speak before the court.” He added, “I don’t think I can get a good hearing before you.”
Gordon went on to note that there are outstanding disclosures in the matter that are pertinent to the defense moving forward with their case.
“The defense totally disagrees with the ruling of the court,” Gordon expressed. However, Magistrate Richards stated, “I have ruled. Matters are controlled from the bench not the table.”
Meanwhile, following Himbury’s evidence, the court heard that he was present on the scene when the photos were taken, as well as when they were being downloaded and copied to a compact disk.
The court proceeded to record several pieces of evidence, including photos, reactive cocaine kits, binoculars, buckets, black tape and loose documents which included receipts, invoices and forms.
According to the allegations of the case, on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, U.S Customs observed the vessel Avanti, which arrived in BVI waters from St. Martin. When they intercepted the boat, George was on board while another vessel, Big Ting was tied alongside with occupants Straker, Flax and Chiverton.
The defendants were observed by U.S. Customs offloading a number of sealed 5 gallon buckets from Avanti to Big Ting. The prosecution stated that the offloading was incomplete when the men were met by U.S. law enforcement officials.
The court heard that local security officials arrested the men, searched the boat and found other buckets.
According to the allegations, the U.S. used specialized equipment to conduct searches of the buckets, which revealed a number of packages wrapped in black plastic hidden in paint.
Seven buckets were found on Avanti, while 9 were found on Big Ting. Each bucket contained five blocks of cocaine each. A total of 80 blocks were seized.
According to the prosecution, all of the men denied knowledge of the narcotics.
It was revealed that Straker is native of Barbados, who has been residing in the Territory for 24 years and was scheduled to travel to see his father who is ill. George is said to be a Belonger and the head captain of North Sound Express, and has no previous convictions.
The court heard that Flax is the first mate of Big Ting, a vessel which is used in medical emergency to transport persons between Virgin Gorda and Tortola.