Devon Bedford, 32, of Harrigan Estate, was denied bail during a virtual Magistrates’ Court hearing on Jan. 29 after being charged in connection with a Jan. 19 police seizure of more than 259 kilograms of cocaine that the Crown claims is worth about $25 million.
After Magistrate Tamia Richards listed the two charges against Mr. Bedford — possession of a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply — Crown Counsel Kristain Johnson read the details of the allegations.
According to Mr. Johnson, police were conducting a mobile patrol sometime after 4 a.m. on Jan. 19 in the Brandywine Bay area when they noticed a powerboat speeding towards a dock near condos along the water.
The officers also observed a white Kia rental vehicle and a red Suzuki Grand Vitara near the junction leading to Brandywine Estate Restaurant, Mr. Johnson alleged.
Using night-vision goggles, the officers watched as people brought items off the vessel and onto the dock, before the two vehicles rapidly departed shortly thereafter, Mr. Johnson alleged.
Police then trailed the cars to a bar, where someone exited the Grand Vitara, started up a parked vehicle and sped off, the prosecutor alleged.
When the officers approached the white Kia, it sped off and they gave chase, Mr. Johnson alleged.
Eventually, police blocked the car in, and after it came to a standstill the driver exited and ran into the bushes, according to the allegations.
Although the police did not pursue the driver on foot, they were able to see him clearly and identify him as Mr. Bedford, the prosecutor read.
The officers then searched the Kia, where they found five parcels of what they suspected to be cocaine, Mr. Johnson alleged.
After police took the vehicle into custody, they found two keys inside: one for the vehicle of Mr. Bedford’s girlfriend and the other for her residence, Mr. Johnson alleged.
Mr. Bedford was arrested on Jan. 28, and while interviewed under caution he denied ownership or knowledge of the cocaine, the prosecutor alleged.
Mr. Johnson closed by suggesting that the defendant should not be offered bail.
However, Mr. Bedford’s defence attorney, Reynela Rawlins, said that he should receive a bail offer.
According to Ms. Rawlins, Mr. Bedford is a government employee born and raised in the Virgin Islands and a father of a 7-year-old with another child on the way.
While Ms. Rawlins acknowledged the seriousness of the offences, she reminded the court that Mr. Bedford is innocent until proven guilty and has “a right to liberty.”
“An offence like this is entirely bail-able,” she added, urging the magistrate to make an “accessible” offer.
Such an offer, she noted, could include conditions to ensure his attendance at court, such as ordering him to surrender travel documents and enforcing a curfew.
But Mr. Johnson objected to Ms. Rawlins’ application, warning that Mr. Bedford could flee the territory or otherwise “pervert the course of justice” at a time when police are pursuing two other people of interest in connection to the drug seizure.
That Mr. Bedford was arrested in connection to the seizure of drugs that apparently arrived on a speedboat and were offloaded at night suggests that he could have considerable resources to leave the VI, Mr. Johnson added.
Ms. Richards ultimately sided with the Crown and denied bail.
In considering such applications, she said, a magistrate must consider whether or not a defendant is likely to show up at trial; the strength of the evidence against them; and their ties to the community, among other factors.
Noting that she does not have “a crystal ball I can look into,” she said that if the allegations were true, Mr. Bedford’s ties to the criminal underworld would make it easy for him to abscond from the territory even if he were forced to surrender travel documents or observe other restrictions. Defendants “leaving the territory without travel documents” is not unusual, Ms. Richards added. She adjourned the matter until May 18.