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DPP: Contraband found at escapee’s apartment the largest in BVI history

DPP: Contraband found at escapee’s apartment the largest in BVI history

The ‘plethora of contraband’ reportedly found at a Ballast Bay apartment this week is the most that has ever have been seized in the history of the territory, according to Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit.

While the DPP did not publicise the nature or quantity of the contraband in open court, she said the apartment in which the items were found was housing the recently recaptured prison escapee, Jose Almestica.

The court was told that Almestica was staying in the apartment rented for him by Jennifer Smith’s family. Smith, who according to Scatliffe-Esprit is one of Almestica’s many girlfriends, was charged with harbouring an escaped prisoner.

Almestica appeared before the Magistrate’s Court for the charge of escaping lawful custody between September 6 and 10, 2017.

Allegations


The court was told that on December 7, 2021, police officers were tending to a different matter when they saw Almestica at a business place in West End.

The court was informed that police officers recognised Almestica and knew he was wanted for escaping custody. He was arrested after resisting.

The DPP said police officers found an illegal firearm on Almestica which they are still investigating.

The court was informed the police officers went with Almestica to the Ballast Bay apartment where he was staying. While at the apartment, the DPP said Smith was reversing into the residence of Almestica.

She was approached by police officers and she led them to a rock on a dirt patch where she showed the police the key to the apartment. That is when, according to the DPP, police found the contraband. The court was told two other persons were taken into custody regarding the findings and investigators are hoping to capture another 10 in relation to the incident.

Whereabouts allegedly known for years


The prosecution alleged that Smith knew the whereabouts of Almestica for the four years he was on the run and helped to hide him from the authorities despite being aware of his wanted status. The DPP told the court Smith may be charged with more serious offences in relation to the raid once the investigation is concluded.

The prosecution also said Almestica is under investigation for the raid along with other crimes committed in the territory.

No bail application was made on behalf of Almestica as he was convicted of another offence back in October and he will be remanded while he awaits sentencing. The accused also appeared from his jail cell as the court was told he tried to escape custody while in lock up.

Almestica was represented by Ruthilia Maximea and he faces up to seven years if found guilty of escaping custody. The matter was adjourned for February 2, 2022, for a process known as paper committal.

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