The accused 59-year-old father of 12 pleaded not guilty to illegal entry and giving false information to police when he made a virtual appearance before Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin Thursday morning, September 3.
The court heard that on July 15 this year, Ocean Dreams Water Taxi Charter Service received permission from the Ministry of Health to deliver three passengers to St Thomas on July 18.
Daniel was among the approved passengers travelling to the neighbouring island.
The court heard that the vessel left West End ferry dock between 8:30 and 9:30 am. And after collecting cargo from Red Hook, St Thomas, the boat returned to Tortola with only the crew members and no passengers.
On August 31, a Customs Officer received information from a resident of Jost Van Dyke that an individual had entered the BVI illegally on a go-fast speed boat coming westerly from the USVI.
The resident confirmed that they observed a Rastafarian man coming off a powerboat wearing a black shirt and brownish coloured pants. The male was later observed boarding the ferry shortly after, the court heard.
It is alleged the Customs officer proceeded to alert the police on Tortola and boarded the ferry, sitting directly across from the said man.
When the ferry arrived at West End, the male was intercepted by the police officers. And when asked his name, he allegedly said it was ‘Aubrey Smith’ of Duffs Bottom.
When asked for proof of his identification, he claimed that he did not have any on him. However, during a search of his person, a wallet was found and a Virgin Islands Driver’s License with the name ‘Aubrey Daniel’ on it.
He was questioned about his return to the territory. He allegedly responded that he never left. The accused was subsequently taken into custody for questioning.
The court further heard that an audio-visual interview was conducted, and during the interview, the accused denied travelling to St Thomas during the pandemic.
A copy of the manifest dated July 18 with his name on it was shown to him but insisted that he left Tortola for St Thomas on the ferry but returned to the territory on the same day.
A copy of the return manifest was then shown to him dated July 18 which indicated that only two crew members returned to the territory. It was then he replied that he stayed in St Thomas for 14 days in quarantine and returned to the territory just before Jost Van Dyke went under lockdown.
The accused was shown that the times did not equate and he further stated that he returned to St Thomas from Jost Van Dyke on a boat with materials and he confirmed that he did not make contact with either Customs or Immigration departments.
A further check was conducted with the ferry and they confirmed that none of the manifests contained the name of Aubrey Daniel travelling between Tortola and Jost Van Dyke, Jost Van Dyke and Tortola during July 18 to August 31.
When he was formally charged he allegedly said: “I come to Jost Van Dyke from St Thomas, I didn’t come in illegally. I just didn’t check-in for quarantine.”
Prosecutors stated they were not objecting to bail but said he must be quarantined as a precaution, bearing in mind the USVI’s current status with the dreaded virus.
Attorney Michael Maduro represented the Daniel.
He is a US citizen and is a BVI belongership and is employed with the Government of the Virgin Islands at the Public Works Department.