After a group of tourists enjoyed a day on Jost Van Dyke on July 5, they came back to their rented boat to find a man aboard filling his pockets with their electronics, according to allegations aired in Magistrates’ Court on July 11.

Defendant James Leonard initially sought to plead guilty to a burglary charge in connection with the incident, blaming “Jose Cuervo” — a brand of tequila.

Mr. Leonard boarded the boat while the family was shopping at Great Harbour, Senior Crown Counsel Khadija Beddeau said during the hearing. With his dinghy attached to the boat, he allegedly pocketed several electronics worth a combined total of $1,200, including two AirPods, an iPhone, two other phones, and a Samsung charger, according to the prosecutor.

The family returned around 8 p.m. while Mr. Leonard was still aboard, and one person got into a physical altercation with him, Ms. Beddeau said.

The complainants tied up Mr. Leonard and called police, finding the electronics on him in the meantime, she said.

Police officers interviewed and arrested Mr. Leonard the next day, according to the prosecutor.

“He admitted to breaking in to the complainants’ vessel,” Ms. Beddeau said.

On July 11, Mr. Leonard, who was not represented, blamed his actions on alcohol.

When Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin asked the Crown if reports included any indication that he was intoxicated, Ms. Beddeau said no.


Mr. Leonard initially sought to enter a guilty plea and expressed his wish that the matter be dealt with summarily in Magistrates’ Court, but Ms. Benjamin expressed concern that he potentially did so because of the weight of the matter.

She then recorded a not-guilty plea but said it can be reconsidered before another magistrate.

The Crown opposed bail and asked the magistrate to consider how such crimes affect tourism, one of the territory’s two economic pillars.

Ms. Beddeau also drew attention to Mr. Leonard’s 11 previous convictions, which she said were of a similar nature.

She added that he is also currently on a 12-month suspended sentence stemming from an incident last December.

While Ms. Benjamin initially denied bail, she said she would consider a request for a follow-up hearing once other factors are determined, including whether Mr. Leonard has a fixed address or resides on his dinghy.

He is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 18.