Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2023. 9:32 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Frustrated that the State will not get to the point of why his clients are in court charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled drugs (67,900 grams of suspected cocaine) and breach of curfew, Senior Counsel Hubert Elrington walked out of the first day of trial against nine men supposedly found with the drugs in January of 2021.
Elrington explained himself to our court reporter, arguing that the landing of a plane carrying suspected drugs as evidenced in court doesn’t have anything to do with his clients’ charges: “My clients were charged that they were found in a boat and the boat has cocaine, fine. Since morning we have been hearing an odyssey relating to a plane that came in and some cocaine found on a trailer that was being towed by a tractor which got stuck and [was] labeled as found property. If they have labeled this cocaine as found property, what [have] my clients got to do with this? The police have already decided that that was found property. Nobody was there…they didn’t find anybody with this property so it is totally irrelevant. I will wait and see how long it will take them to finish with this foolishness.”
He added that while he directly represents three of the nine accused – Marlon Reyes, Reenan Reneau, and Dinsdale Thompson – he has pledged to assist all nine. However, he warned he would not tolerate further distraction from the State.
Defense counsel Norman Rodriguez represents father and son Fitzgerald and Byron Lee Clare and attorney Leeroy Banner is representing Gareth Banner, Dwight Andrews, Brandon Edward Rowland, and police officer Tyrell Talbert. Rodriguez explained, “When we came back, we requested an adjournment to see if we could resolve this because the three men who were left without representation at that point had a right to representation and the Senior Magistrate allowed that opportunity and there was no objection from Madam DPP herself.”
In court every objection Elrington made was overruled by the sitting Magistrate on the grounds of prematurity, prompting his premature departure.
Allegations are that the nine accused men were found on January 29, 2021, at Hill Bank Lagoon behind Crooked Tree, Belize District, with the drugs, about two bales, at 3:40 a.m. when a countrywide curfew was in effect.
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal called two witnesses, one of them a police officer who described his meeting with several of the accused dating back to October 2020 when an alleged illegal landing strip was discovered off the road between Lemonal and Crooked Tree villages, and said he was later allegedly offered a bribe to keep his mouth shut. He reported the meeting to his superiors. The other was a scenes of crime technician who detailed what was found at the landing site of the illegal drug plane in January of 2021 and introduced pictures into evidence.
The case resumes on August 28.
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