One of the accused Chaim Todman
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
The four men allegedly caught with a loaded firearm and over 200 grams of cannabis during a police stop and search operation in West End, turned up to court yesterday, October 19, expecting the trial into the charges to commence. However, prosecution was not in a position to start with revelations that the firearm in the case is yet to be tested.
The occupants of the blue Mitsubishi motor vehicle were the driver, Chaim Todman, 32 of Johnson Ghut and passengers, Jose Miguel Christopher, 28 of Long Look; Shaun Williams, 31 of Purcell Estate; and Mustafa Claxton, 26 of Free Bottom.
Attorney-at-law Herbert McKenzie is representing Todman and Claxton, while Patrick Thompson appeared for Williams and Christopher.
At yesterday's sitting, Prosecutor Sarah Benjamin said she was holding for her colleague, Prosecutor Leslie Ann Faulkner who has conduct of the case, but was before the High Court.
Benjamin said they were not in a position to start the case, noting that there is couple of documents outstanding. She told the court that they are still waiting for the alleged firearm to be tested, and also a statement from a police officer.
However, McKenzie told the court that on the last occasion, September 7, Prosecutor Faulkner stated that she was holding for Prosecutor Tiffany Scatliffe in the matter. He said the court had also ordered that full disclosure be made by September 11; however, the defence only received documents on Thursday, October 18.
McKenzie requested that the court have the prosecution ensure that the person who is prosecuting the case be known to avoid there being another adjournment on the next court date. While noting this, McKenzie said he understands the administrative hiccups at the DPP's office, given the change of headship.
In response, Benjamin said that who has conduct of the matter is not material at this stage; however, Magistrate Tamia Richards interjected and stated that it is, since files are hopping from desk to desk at the DPP's office and it is causing delays.
The Magistrate then ordered that the prosecution make full disclosure to the defence and ascertain who has conduct of the matter.
The case will come up again on November 6.
All four men are charged with conspiracy to import cannabis [260 grams], unlawful possession of cannabis, unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to supply, carrying an unlicensed firearm [.40 glock pistol hand gun] and possession of explosives [4 rounds of ammunition].
Claxton, Williams and Christopher are also charged with importation of a firearm, importation of explosives and illegal entry.
The men have all pleaded not guilty to the charges and are all on bail.
It is alleged that members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force on surveillance around 8:25 pm on Sunday, April 15, observed Claxton in the area of Soper's Hole on his 20-foot boat where he headed in a westerly direction. Around 9:00 pm, the same boat was observed turning back to Soper's Hole with three persons onboard including Claxton.
The boat then docked at the mariner and it was loaded by the passengers. Police said based on information, Claxton contacted Todman via phone. The men then entered a vehicle which was driven by Todman.
Police kept them under close observation and they headed in an easterly direction. The marked Police vehicle followed the jeep; however, the vehicle turned around and headed in the opposite direction. At this time, Police decided to give chase and the vehicle was stopped.
It is further alleged that when the vehicle stopped, an unknown male person exited the vehicle and ran. Police then gave chase, but did not apprehend the person.
A search was then conducted on the vehicle and the firearm was found on the floor behind the passenger seat along with cannabis and a bullet proof vest. The ammunition was in the firearm and one was in the breach, according to Police.
The street value for the cannabis is $2,600.00.
During an audio/visual interview, Todman told Police that sometime earlier that day, he asked Claxton if he could take him to St. Thomas on Monday for his medical appointment and Claxton agreed. He said later that day he received a text from Claxton for him to pick him [Claxton] and his friend up at the marina.