Dannys Rodriguez Robles, 59, and Emerais Lopez Leiva, 54, pleaded guilty to the offence of ‘overstaying a landing permit’ when they appeared before Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin on Monday, October 5, 2020, via Zoom with their legal representative Mr E. Leroy Jones.
If the fines are not paid by the men forthwith, they could face two months at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.
According to Crown Counsel Kael London, the men arrived legally in the territory sometime in September 2019.
When they arrived, they were staying at Maria’s By the Sea and they later moved to Anderson Hill.
London related that on September 27, 2020, members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) received a tip that there were suspicious activities taking place at the Anderson Hill home and went to investigate at roughly 8:00am.
During the search of the residence, the defendants were met and revealed that neither had passports because a friend stole them.
The defendants then informed the police that they had overstayed in the territory.
They were subsequently arrested on suspicion of the aforementioned offence and checks with the Immigration Department confirmed they had arrived legally, but no further extension was granted by the department to them.
While in custody, the men were interviewed and they again admitted to the offence. They were then formally charged.
In the meantime, their attorney made a successful plea for the court to impose fines and non-custodial sentence on his clients.
Jones said his clients pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, they were cooperative, remorseful and plans were already in motion to have them repatriated back to their home country, Venezuela.
“It was a very poor and honest mistake on their part,” Jones pleaded, adding that they should not be allowed to live off the taxpayer's money for any further period of time.
The offence carries a custodial sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
After listening to his plea, Magistrate Benjamin, said, while the offence is serious and very prevalent in the territory, she would impose no custodial sentence on the men.