Two men accused of committing separate burglaries in the La Soufriere volcano Red Zone, in north-eastern St Vincent, have been barred from returning to their home villages without the permission of the court, until the all-clear is given.
The volcano began explosive eruptions on April 9, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and destroying farming lands, buildings and livestock.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett imposed the ban on Kim Hoyte and Kenny Nanton on Monday, when they each appeared, separately, before the Kingstown Magistrates’ Court.
Nanton pleaded not guilty to a charge that between April 9 and 15, he unlawfully entered the liquor and provision shop of Kenroy Williams as a trespasser and stole a quantity of items, valued at EC$905 (about TT$2,274).
The items included canned fish, meat and sausages, biscuits, crackers, 11 bottles of liquor, nine bottles of energy drink and three bottles of stout.
Hoyte pleaded similarly to a charge that on April 13, with intent to commit the offence of burglary, he did an act which was more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence.
Magistrate Burnett granted Hoyte bail in the sum of EC$2,000 (about TT$5,027) with one surety, and ordered him to report to Colonarie Police Station once a week.
The senior magistrate told Hoyte while there is a presumption of innocence, the court was concerned he was returning to Sandy Bay in light of the charge brought against him. He noted the authorities have ordered people to leave the Red Zone and Hoyte was saying he was going back there.
“It’s your call. I am not telling you to be or not to be, or do or not to do. I am just telling you I am concerned,” Burnett said, adjourning the case to April 26.
Nanton, who was arraigned immediately after Hoyte, had initially told the court he was “guilty with an explanation”.
He said he was in De Volet—an area known for marijuana cultivation close to La Soufriere—when the volcano erupted on April 9. Nanton said he walked to his grandmother’s house and then he remembered they have a shop.
Nanton said he took one bottle of strong rum, three tins of beef, and tins of sausages and three packs of biscuits.
“I did not take all of these items,” he told the court, adding: “What would I do with all these items?”
On hearing the man’s explanation, prosecutor Rose-Ann Richardson told the court that the matter should go to trial.
The court recorded a not guilty plea and while Richardson did not object to bail, the Crown’s only concern is where Nanton would live, considering he had been ordered out of the emergency shelter.
Nanton told the court that he was going to sleep at a friend’s in Lowmans, but later said he would return to the shelter.
Nanton was granted EC$2,000 bail (about TT$5,027) with one surety, and was ordered to report to Central Police Station once a week. The matter was also adjourned to April 26.
“Which is my birthday,” Nanton said, to which the magistrate responded: “That’s better, you’d remember.” —CMC