Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Customs officer Jamal Forde has denied allegations that he removed evidence from the Road Town Police Station in relation to the judicial proceedings in the May 18 drug bust at Baughers Bay.
Forde, 26, of Greenland pleaded not guilty to removing evidence [a marine boat clearance document] between May 18 and 19, 2012. He is represented by Attorney-at-Law Mishka Jacobs.
Forde, a BVIslander who has been a Customs Officers for some six years, was granted bail in the amount of $65,000 signed surety, ordered to report to the police station four days per week, surrender his travel documents and stay away from the men charged in the drug bust.
Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe in laying out the allegations said the arrest is in connection with another matter which is before the court in relation to drug trafficking.
She said the matter is the drug bust on May 18 at Baughers Bay where as a result of a joint operation between Her Majesty Customs and Police a white go-fast boat was intercepted coming from the USVI and four individuals were arrested for numerous offences including smuggling and importation of drugs.
The men charged in the relation to the drug bust case are: Khoy Frett, the proprietor of a courier service, Wilbert Donovan, 47 of Belle Vue; Gavin Richards, 29 of Long Look; and Guyanese native Suruj Persaud, 26 of East End.
At today´s August 20 court hearing, Scatliffe said a marine control document was used to effect the seizure of the boat. She said the document was intended for use by the customs and police departments as evidence in the trial against the men.
She told the court that Forde was among the customs and police officers in the operation team during the Baughers Bay drug bust.
The court that the marine control document was discovered missing and extensive search were carried out by both customs and police to locate the documents, but to no avail.
However, she said the next time the marine control document was seen was at the court on May 21, when the lawyer for the four men accused in the drug bust produced it.
She said as a result police launched an investigation and it was discovered from the use of CCTV footage that the defendant removed documents from a file believed to be the original case file in the police control room.
Police officers then took a statement from the lawyer who was in court and who produced the document. According to Scatliffe the lawyer told police that he received the document from Forde in the presence of two other customs officers.
Scatliffe stated that further investigations revealed that Forde is the owner of the go-fast boat which was involved in the drug bust, and that Forde was a close friend and former employee of one of the men arrested.
During an interview with police, Forde stated that he went to the Road Town Police station to visit his friend who was one of the persons arrested.
He allegedly admitted to police that he removed the charge sheet for the individual. He further explained that probably when he removed the charge sheet from the file, the marine document was between the documents, but he couldn´t remember for sure.
Scatliffe said during separate interviews with the other two customs officers, they told police that at no time they were with the lawyer and Forde.
Forde will return to court on October 16.