In a trial that has been ongoing since January, former Royal Virgin Islands Police Force officer Michael Isles testified last week against three other officers with his account of a search and cash seizure that took place more than four years ago.
His testimony to the court last Thursday suggested that roughly $10,000 was missing after the officers arrested a suspected criminal on July 23, 2014.
Officers Pamphill Prevost, Simon Power and Shawn Henry are all charged with conspiracy to steal after “helping themselves” to large sums of cash during police operations between 2012 and 2014, according to the prosecution.
Mr. Power is also charged with acquisition, possession or use of proceeds of criminal conduct; and Messrs. Prevost and Power are charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Last week, witness Mr. Isles was questioned by Queen’s Counsel John Black before being cross-examined by Defence Attorney Patrick Thompson.
The incident Mr. Isles described for the court, including Justice Rajiv Persad and a nine-member jury, was one he also participated in as a police officer in the RVIPF.
Messrs. Prevost, Power and Henry were all present during the arrest of Cayma Nibbs in 2014 in Frenchmans Cay, along with Mr. Isles, the court heard.When the officers approached Mr. Nibbs and asked him what was in his backpack, he said he had $42,000 in cash, the witness said.
But after returning to the police station later and asking Mr. Prevost how much money had been collected, Mr. Isles was told $32,000 had been counted.
Though Mr. Isles reportedly argued that Mr. Nibbs had said there was $42,000 in the bag, Mr. Prevost told him that’s what the officer counted, so “that’s it,” according to the testimony.
Details of the arrest
Mr. Isles recalled details that seemed out of the ordinary during the time of the arrest, the court heard.
For one, Mr. Isles said, he was asked to inspect Mr. Nibbs’ dinghy even though he had no marine knowledge and told the other officers that someone else was better qualified for the task.
Mr. Powers accompanied him to the vessel, where they spent ten minutes searching the boat and found nothing, he testified.
When the two rejoined Messrs. Prevost and Henry, Mr. Isles saw that Mr. Prevost had a camcorder in his hand, the witness testified. Mr. Isles said Mr. Prevost then filmed him putting money into an exhibit bag in front of Mr. Nibbs and the other officers.
Mr. Nibbs was arrested and the witness drove by himself, with the other officers in other vehicles, to the Road Town Police Station, the court heard.
During Mr. Thompson’s cross-examination of Mr. Isles, he asked the witness to identify his “worst personal quality.”
Mr. Isles responded, “I cannot say which is my worst trait, so to speak.”
Mr. Isles, who is originally from Dominica, was a primary school teacher for several years before joining the police force there, he said last week. Altogether, he served as an officer in both the VI andDominica for 15 years.
During cross-examination, Mr. Isles did, however, admit to committing crimes while on duty in the RVIPF, including stealing $4,000 in cash during another operation. He also agreed last Thursday that he “hasn’t done things by the book” at times in his policing career.
Mr. Isles was granted a letter of immunity by the director of public prosecutions on Oct. 15, 2014. Asked by Mr. Thompson what this letter meant, Mr. Isles said that it protects him from prosecution for any criminal offences.
The trial continues in High Court. The three officers facing charges have been interdicted and suspended until the case is completed, according to Police Information Officer Diane Drayton.