Lee Martin and Mitchell Warren at court, April 4, 2017
Photo Credit: Javon Liburd/BVI Platinum News
The two men who were charged in connection with a high-powered rifle and a quantity of ammunition, found on-board a St. Vincent registered cargo vessel named ‘Tenacity’, have both denied knowledge of the prohibited weapon and ammo.
Lee Martin (boat captain), 66, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, and Mitchell Warren (co-captain), 43, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, were taken before the Magistrate's Court yesterday afternoon, April 4.
The men, who are charged with possession of a prohibited weapon and unlawful possession of ammunition (20 rounds), were granted $60,000 bail of which $50,000 is signed surety and $10,000 cash.
Senior Crown Counsel, Leslie Ann Faulkner said that on January 20, 2017, customs and police carried out a joint operation at the Port Purcell dock, where the vessel was cited for several breaches under the customs ordinance. The vessel was detained.
She said that a thorough search was conducted in various quarters of the vessel and nothing suspicious was found. However, in the cargo area, officers observed a package and inspected it in the presence of the two defendants and other crew members.
Upon opening the package, officers found parts resembling an unassembled firearm. As a result, members of the vessel were questioned, where it was revealed that a truck had arrived and Martin had instructed the driver of a shipping company in the BVI to offload onto the vessel.
Faulkner said this was done without any form of documents, which is the standard protocol.
When questioned, Martin said he had no knowledge of the weapon, stating that he had control of other parts of the vessel, but not the cargo area.
Warren also denied knowledge.
Warren is represented by Attorney-at-Law Leroy Jones, and Martin appeared without legal representation.
Attorney-at-Law Mrs. Valerie Stephens-Gordon appeared for the owners of the vessel, S&S Marine Ltd., in relation to the seizure of the boat.
Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo indicated that she granted bail to the men for various reasons, including that it is a case where the captain is deemed responsible for what is on his vessel. She said it’s not a case where the men were found with the weapon on their person.
They will return to court on June 2.