A Court in the Virgin Islands has overturned an Appeal Court Ruling on Tuesday, paving the way for three Vincentian men Dexter Chance, Gareth McDowell and Carlos Sutherland to return home as free men
The Virgin Islands News Online says that the three men were found guilty on October 7, 2011 and sentenced on July 3, 2012, to six years in prison for importing drugs into the Virgin Islands.
The decision was handed down in the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands and was heard by appeal judges Mario Michel, David Baptiste and Ola Mae Edwards.
On January 23, 2008, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) seized and searched a chartered catamaran at Hodges Creek with some 61 kilos of cocaine on-board. The cocaine was said to have had a street value of one million US dollars.
The RVIPF alleged that the shipment of cocaine came from St. Vincent and that Chance, McDowell and Sutherland were involved in the shipment of the drugs.
The Court of Appeal ruling quashed the conviction for drug importation, on the ground that the then Magistrate, Ms. Valarie Stephens, erred in law in relying on a certificate of analysis not bearing the name of the defendants.
This all happened after the three men would have spent five years of their lives at Her Majesty’s Prison, and having been extradited from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Speaking with Virgin Islands News Online following the ruling, the men said that they are glad to be finally returning to their families in their homeland.