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Woman Risks Five Years In Prison For Human Smuggling

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A WOMAN faces up to five years imprisonment after being convicted yesterday in the country’s second human trafficking case to date.

Apolonia McLean-Smith returns to Magistrates Court for sentencing in one month’s time after her lawyer, Roberto Reckley, requested a probation report be done with respect to his client.

Though Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt said she did not think the report would assist the court on sentencing, she would agree to the request.

It normally takes four to six weeks to produce such a report.

Crown prosecutor Darell Taylor had no objection to the November 12 adjournment for the report’s production.

A year ago McLean-Smith pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking of a person, unlawful withholding of papers, and transporting a person for the purpose of exploiting such person for prostitution in her arraignment before the chief magistrate.

Yesterday, the judge found that the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt concerning the crimes that were committed between May 1 and July 2013.

It is claimed that McLean, recruited, transported, transferred, received and/or facilitated the arrival of a woman into the Bahamas by means of deception or fraud.

It is further claimed that she withheld the woman’s passport and brought her into the Bahamas to be exploited for prostitution.

The complainant testified that she had lost her cashier’s job in early 2013 and had been put in contact with the accused through a mutual friend.

McLean-Smith, known to the victim as “Apple”, reportedly instructed the victim to come to the Bahamas using a ticket she had purchased for the unemployed woman.

On May 1, 2013 the complainant said she came to the Bahamas and was picked up by the accused and someone else and taken to an apartment in Cable Beach that would house seven other women.

She was told by the accused that she would be charged $1,200 for the ticket and $250 per week for rent. She was told that she would pay those fees by working at Magic City night club where she would do topless dancing, oral sex and other sexual services to male clientèle at a fixed price.

She said “Apple” threatened to harm her and knew informants who would be able to say if the complainant was trying to leave the country.

On June 24, 2013, the complainant gave “Apple” $400 along with her passport to get an extension on her stay. However, the passport was never returned to her and on July 1, the complainant was picked up by the Immigration Department and detained at the Detention Centre.

“Apple”, in her defence, denied purchasing the complainant’s ticket, coercing or exploiting her into prostitution, withholding her passport and threatening her.

McLean-Smith said the complainant’s allegations were without merit and out of spite based on a misplaced belief that she was behind the complainant’s detention by Immigration officials.

Yesterday, the court found the complainant’s evidence to be uncontroverted and credible on the materials related to the three charges in question.

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