St Helena Online

Tag: crime

Voyage to investigate illegal fishing off Ascension: reporting ban on St Helena media is lifted

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A criminal investigation has been carried out into illegal fishing around Ascension Island.

But the media on St Helena were banned from reporting on an investigatory expedition aboard the MFV Extractor until it was over (archive picture by Bruce Salt).

No details of the operation have emerged from official sources at the time of writing.

An injunction was served on Mike Olsson, editor of the St Helena Independent, and Saint FM Community Radio, to prevent them reporting on the voyage for fear of alerting the operators of illegal fishing vessels.

Other media on the island were also bound by the injunction.

Chief magistrate John MacRitchie said in his court judgement that the media would be “unlikely to potentially interfere with the course of justice, if the situation is explained to them”.

He said acting attorney general Angelo Berbotto had failed to explain why the media should avoid reporting the voyage of the MFV Extractor.

He also rebuked Mike Olsson for giving a forthright response to a threatening email from Mr Berbotto. This was blamed for a breakdown in communications that prompted Mr Berbotto to take the extraordinary and draconian step of seeking an injunction at the 11th hour, disrupting publication of the 5 February 2016 edition of the St Helena Independent.

In his judgement in the case, Mr MacRitchie said the injunction would mean inhibiting the freedom of the press – “an extremely important right”.

But he said this was outweighed by the need to prevent “interference with the detection of serious crimes, which are specifically said to be taking place around Ascension  island.”

The affair has raised a number of human rights issues that are expected to be examined in the coming days.

There is also likely to be scrutiny of the actions of Mr Berbotto and the legal service on St Helena.

  • COMMENT: Responsible efforts by St Helena Online to find out the scope of reporting restrictions were unsuccessful. This resulted in the site being unable to report on matters of clear public interest that could, in fact, have been made public, without risk of perverting the course of justice. This became clear when a copy of the court judgement was received on Friday, 4 March 2016, only a day before the injunction would expire. I regard this obstruction as an unwarranted restraint on my human right to freedom of expression and will be considering my response. Simon Pipe, owner, St Helena Online


I had my bag pilfered at Johannesburg, says Lawson

Saints will be flying in and out of an airport with a high crime rate and a reputation for losing baggage, the Hon Lawson Henry told fellow legislative councillors. He spoke from experience.

He said: “Many Saints, including myself, have had to travel to Johannesburg to gain links to other international airports, and our experiences have not been good. I have had my baggage pilfered and I know at least one other member of this house has suffered the same fate. There are real concerns for our people’s security.”

The Hon Dr Corinda Essex shared his concerns.

She said: “A further concern relates to the high crime rate and lack of security in Johannesburg in comparison with Cape Town.

“Saints, particularly those travelling for the first time, will need advice and guidance regarding personal safety and that of their belongs, particularly as an overnight stop is likely to be required southbound. How will this be provided?”

Saturday flights in BA livery confirmed for St Helena
Flights: chief sec admits doubts over medical care and crime
‘Shameful’: workers left adrift by lack of Ascension flights

Water the lawn, and you’ll get grassed up

Police are investigating reports that people on St Helena have been wasting water – with the island only six days away from its supplies drying up in the most populated area.

A ban on using hoses and sprinklers has been imposed across the island, even though only parts of it are short of water.

Chief of Police Peter Coll said: “We have had a couple of reports about water wastage and we are investigating those. That could result in reporting those offenders, and they could end up at the magistrates court.

“It’s an anti-social crime and it’s one that’s going to be a bit embarrassing for individuals if they have to go up before the magistrates for it.

“So I’m appealing to people’s better nature: if people do see people cheating – watering, hosing – if reports are received we will investigate.”

Saints to appear in UK court over stolen motorcycles

Two St Helenian men are to appear before magistrates in the UK after a number of stolen motorcycles were seized on the island.

Ryan Benjamin, 31, and Dominic Benjamin, 23, of Longwood, St Helena, are facing charges of handling stolen motorcycles and a quad bike, and conspiracy to remove stolen property from the UK.

They were arrested following a lengthy joint investigation by St Helena Police, Gloucestershire Police and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in 2012. 

They will appear before Cheltenham magistrates on 8 May 2013, when the bench will decide whether to send them for trial at crown court.

Man in custody after alleged violent disorder

An incident of violent disorder in Jamestown led to one man being arrested on suspicion of affray, report St Helena Police.

The weekly crime round-up says one male was detained in custody on Thursday 31 January 2013 and charged with several criminal offences. Bail was refused.

A special court hearing was held two days later and the man was remanded in custody until Thursday 7 February.

  • Note: the outcome of court cases is not usually reported in St Helena’s media. Although hearings are in public, St Helena Online does not have the resources to cover them.

Saints say No to violence at home

Growing numbers of people on St Helena are seeking help after being attacked in their homes.

And on the last weekend of November 2012, men and women on the island were asked to wear white ribbons to show their opposition to domestic violence.

A coffee morning and a vigil were organised to help spell out the message to abusers – and let victims know they need not suffer in silence.

Police reported seven incidents of domestic violence over a three-month period from late August 2012, and six people were arrested – including one women. Some were refused bail.

A new push to reduce violence in the home began when the international White Ribbon Day was marked on St Helena for the first time.

St Helena Police adopted a policy on dealing with reported cases the same day, on 25 November 2011.

Christine Coleman, of the social services department, said: “From that, people are being made more aware, and now I feel people are not afraid to come forward and speak up when they feel they are being treated by their partner in a way that they feel is unfair or violent.

“By wearing the white ribbon, you are saying you won’t take part in violence yourself, but also you won’t condone it in your friends.

“It is about raising awareness, especially for males to be aware: a pledge where you are giving that support, acknowledging the fact that violence against women needs to be reduced.

“We have had more referrals coming in regarding domestic violence.”

Catherine Turner, the islands human rights co-ordinator, said: “Violence against women is not just domestic and it doesn’t have to be physical. It can be anything from name-calling right through to rape.

“It can be trying to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do, calling you names in public, not allowing you to go out – that happens a lot, in teenage relationships particularly, and if it starts there it becomes slamming violence later in life.

“It happens, but we don’t see it in the street: it happens in the home.

“A lot of women have told us it’s all right for their husband to force them to have sex. Well it’s not: that is rape.”

She said that in the UK, men had helped to get the message across that beating wives and girlfriends was not manly behaviour.

Christine said victims who reported incidents to social workers would be given support and advised that they could complain to the police, who had a procedure in place for dealing with abuse.”

Leaflets, advice and books are available in the human rights office, next to Marlene Yon’s shop in Main Street, Jamestown.

Domestic violence on St Helena: six arrests in three months

St Helena Police dealt with seven incidents of domestic violence in the space of three months between August and November 2012. One of the people arrested was a woman. The cases have all been detailed in the island’s weekly crime bulletin. 


Monday 13 August 2012: During the early hours, police attended a domestic violence incident in Half Tree Hollow which resulted in one female being arrested on reasonable suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detained in custody. Investigations continue at this time.

Friday 31 August 2012: On the evening of Friday, police attended a report of domestic violence and criminal damage in the Longwood area. One male was arrested and subsequently charged to court for the offences.

Tuesday 11 September 2012: police were informed that a domestic violence incident had occurred on Monday evening in the Half Tree Hollow area.  Police commenced an inquiry and later that morning a male person was arrested for reasonable suspicion of assault and detained in custody and subsequently charged, but bail was refused.  A Special Court convened on Wednesday morning and the person was remanded in custody until Thursday 20 September.

Saturday 13 October 2012: On Saturday night police were called to a domestic violence incident in the Half Tree Hollow area where one male person was arrested for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detained in custody.  After being interviewed, he was released on conditional bail pending further investigations.

Also on Saturday police attended another domestic dispute in the Jamestown area and one person was warned for causing a breach of the peace.

Saturday 27 October 2012: On Saturday afternoon police responded to a domestic violence incident in the Half Tree Hollow which resulted in a male person being arrested on suspicion of assault and detained in custody.  He was later interviewed, charged with common assault and bail was refused.  A Special Court convened this morning and he was released on conditional bail to return to Court in due course.

Monday 12 November 2012: On Monday evening police received a report of domestic violence incident in the Half Tree Hollow area which resulted in one male person being arrested on reasonable suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detained in custody.  He was later interviewed and charged and bail was refused.  On Wednesday a Special Court convened and he was remanded in custody until today.

St Helena crime archive

Endemic trees reported stolen from Millennium Forest

Police are investigating the alleged theft of gumwood and rosemary trees from St Helena’s Millennium Forest on Wednesday, 31 October 2012.

No further details have been given, but Detective Sergeant Clarence Roberts said officers would be making regular visits to the area.

“If anyone is seen that looks suspicious, they will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

An appeal has been made for information.

Stolen bikes and cash seized after import investigation

One of the stolen bikes has been donated to Prince Andrew School by its legal owner in the UK

An investigation into stolen motorcycles being imported to St Helena has led to the seizure of a dozen machines. They are to be sold at auction.

Police also found a large sum of money on the island. The courts in Jamestown have ordered that the cash be forfeited.

Several other motorbikes were sold to people on the island who were unaware they were stolen.

Inspector Rod Paterson said: “None of these motorcycles have been detained and there will not be any further police action with regards to these vehicles that remain with the innocent purchaser.”

The investigation was carried out by police and the customs service. A court case is pending in the UK.

One of the stolen motorcycles – an off-road bike – has been donated to Prince Andrew School by its legal owner.

Dean Barnsley, a mechanics teacher from Wolverhampton, “very generously requested that his bike is donated to Prince Andrew School as a teaching aid,” said Inspector Paterson.

The remaining 11 motorcycles were due to be auctioned on Saturday 10 November 2012 in the customs warehouse, on a sold-as-seen basis.

Police chief expresses sadness for convicted prison boss

The conviction of St Helena’s last prison manager for theft has been described as a “sad situation” following positive work on the island.

St Helena Police helped recover stolen property left on the island by Mick Morris, who was said in court in the UK to have had a long-term problem with depression.

Morris, 45, received a six-month prison term, suspended for a year, after admitting to magistrates that he stole two laptop computers, an ebook reader, a netbook mini-computer, and a Polaroid camera from Leyhill Open Prison in the UK, where he was a deputy governor. He was placed on a curfew for 12 weeks, and ordered to pay compensation.

Peter Coll, chief of police in Jamestown, said:

“Mick Morris committed these offences before his appointment in St Helena and they arose as a result of allegations made recently in the UK and that is why this was not picked up in security checks and character references when he was appointed.

“The offences did not involve St Helena and this was a matter investigated and dealt with in the UK. The St Helena Police Directorate were in close contact with the Avon & Somerset Police throughout this inquiry and fully co-operated and assisted them in
the recovery of some property.

“Mick tendered his resignation in St Helena once it became apparent that he was being investigated for these offences and for other personal reasons that prevented him completing his contract.

“This is a sad situation where Mick has left his own reputation tarnished following some positive work for us here. This is a reminder that nobody is above the law either in the UK or in St Helena.”

Jamestown prison boss gets jail term for theft