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Jail Term Upheld For Police Boat Chase

By FARRAH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

fjohnson@tribunemedia.net

THE Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed the four-year sentence of one of two men who led officers on a high speed boat chase after he and his partner were caught sailing on the open seas with a quantity of dangerous drugs.

In the early hours of November 8, 2017, officers patrolling the area of Highbourne Cay, Exuma, observed Billydee Robinson Jr and his co-accused on an unlit grey boat speeding on the open water.

The officers gave chase and identified themselves by microphone and beacon lights; however, the boat did not stop. During the chase, the fleeing vessel sought to ram into the police boat several times. At one point, both men were also seen throwing bags overboard into the water.

According to a judgement posted on the Crown’s website, upon Robinson Jr’s arrest, he was charged with possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply, conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply and assault with a deadly instrument.

In July 2019, he was convicted on all charges and was sentenced to four years in prison for possession with intent to supply and conspiracy to possess and three years on remand for the assault with a dangerous instrument charge.

In February, the appellant applied for an extension of time to appeal his conviction on the dangerous drugs charge as well as his sentence for the charge of assault with a deadly instrument.

However, the appellate panel of justices Sir Michael Barnett, Jon Isaacs, and Roy Jones dismissed his appeal yesterday.

In their judgement delivered by Sir Michael, they noted: “Here, the magistrate had to decide whether the appellant’s agreement or common purpose with his co-accused to possess and transport drugs late at night included, if things came to it, the commission of ramming a police boat which was intended to stop and capture them in order to prevent being apprehended.

“It was reasonable for the magistrate to conclude that (the) enterprise would have (included) taking necessary steps to avoid capture. In this case, after the boat in which the appellant was an occupant, rammed the police boat, it continued at a high rate of speed to avoid capture by the police. It was only after they rammed the police boat and tried to escape did the appellant and his co-accused start to throw the bags overboard.

“On that evidence, it is difficult to see how the magistrate was wrong or erred in finding that the appellant was also guilty of assault as part of the joint enterprise of committing possessing dangerous drugs and taking steps as were necessary to avoid detection and capture.”

In his dissenting view, Justice Isaacs said in view of the evidence produced, he did “not find the magistrate’s inference that the appellant joined in with the driver’s attempt to assault the police officers as reasonable.”

“It is inconceivable that the appellant, in associating himself in a clandestine drug run with no weapons on board, would have agreed inferentially or otherwise to ram a police vessel of indeterminate size, at night in the open sea thereby imperiling his own life,” he stated.

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