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Missing defendants can still be prosecuted

Missing defendants can still be prosecuted

It is not an uncommon practice for the Magistrate’s Court to proceed with the trial for persons who cannot be located by the court, according to prosecutor Kristian Johnson.

Johnson’s statement comes after the court found three men guilty of illegal possession of a firearm on October 25.

Two of the three accused were not present for the trial and one remains at large. Of the three defendants, only Edgar Carasco was present for the entirety of the trial. Jose Almestica, another co-defendant, has been missing since September 2017 when Hurricane Irma ravaged the territory and Her Majesty’s Prison where he was being held.

Meanwhile, the third defendant Darryl Frett missed the entire trial and only returned to the territory approximately two months ago when he was remanded.

Arrested in another country while on temporary BVI bail


Frett, a resident of Johnson’s Ghut, missed his trial because he was serving time in another country for a drug-related incident.

A source in the Magistrate Court said Frett had initially received bail for the illegal possession of a firearm. However, he violated the terms of his bail because of a domestic violence situation and he was remanded. The source said Frett then applied for bail in the Supreme Court to undergo eye surgery and it was granted temporarily. The source noted due diligence did not happen and after his surgery, the court did not follow up with his progress so he was not placed back on remand.

Frett and three other men were arrested by Sint Maarten coastguards in 2019 after the go-fast boat they were travelling in was found with cocaine. The source said that during the trial, Frett’s attorney at the time was unable to provide the court with a reasonable excuse for the absence of his client. Therefore, the court decided to still continue the trial and issued a bench warrant for the defendant.

At large


Meanwhile, Prosecutor Johnson said the court continued the prosecution of Almestica because it was satisfied that he had escaped the court’s jurisdiction.

Almestica is a United States citizen, who the court believes resided in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. It is alleged he escaped to the US where the BVI does not have an extradition order.

Nonetheless, an active warrant is out for the arrest of Almestica at all ports of entry. If he is to enter the territory again, he would be made to serve his sentence for the crimes committed.

The trial started around 2017 and had to be postponed after the courthouse was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. At the recent hearing, Carasco was represented by attorney Valerie Gordon and Frett was represented by Reynela Rawlins who became his attorney post-2017.

The two defendants present were ordered remanded until their sentencing on November 24.

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