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Police have no apologies for arrest of Bobby's Supermarket owner- CoP Matthews

- alleged Mr Elton S. Leonard was warned twice for selling to curfew breakers; Matter with DPP
A contingent of police officers outside of Bobby's Supermarket prior to the arrest of the proprietor, Mr Elton S. Leonard on April 24, 2020. Photo: Team of Reporters
Bobby’s Supermarket owner, Mr Elton S. Leonard was taken into custody on April 24, 2020, for allegedly violating curfew orders but subsequently released without charges. Photo: Team of Reporters
Bobby’s Supermarket owner, Mr Elton S. Leonard was taken into custody on April 24, 2020, for allegedly violating curfew orders but subsequently released without charges. Photo: Team of Reporters
Commissioner of Police, Mr Micheal B. Matthews says the businessman was warned twice about serving customers in breach of the curfew, before his arrest. Photo: VINO/File
Commissioner of Police, Mr Micheal B. Matthews says the businessman was warned twice about serving customers in breach of the curfew, before his arrest. Photo: VINO/File
Echoing the cries of the community, co-founder of the B&F Medical Centre, businessman and CBN 90.9 FM radio commentator, Alred C. Frett had remarked in a May 5, 2020, commentary published on VINO that Leonard was 'punished for feeding the hungry.' Photo: VINO/File
Echoing the cries of the community, co-founder of the B&F Medical Centre, businessman and CBN 90.9 FM radio commentator, Alred C. Frett had remarked in a May 5, 2020, commentary published on VINO that Leonard was 'punished for feeding the hungry.' Photo: VINO/File
BAUGHERS BAY, Tortola, VI – Revealing that the case involving Bobby’s Supermarket owner, Mr Elton S. Leonard is still before the criminal justice system and may end up in a court prosecution, Commissioner of Police Mr Michael B. Matthews alleged the businessman was warned twice about serving customers in breach of the curfew before his arrest.

The Commissioner made the comments on the May 8, 2020 episode of ‘Honestly Speaking’, where he also said ranks of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) should not have to issue an apology over the handling of the incident since they were only doing their job.

Leonard arrested after warning – CoP Matthews

On April 24, 2020, Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) reported that Mr Leonard was taken into custody on that same day it was alleged he was serving persons not in possession of Essential Workers Passes, against curfew regulations.

According to sources, an individual had entered the store to purchase some bananas when a police officer in the store advised against the purchase.

Mr Leonard then intervened, allegedly allowing the purchase of the bananas on the premise that 'everyone has to eat during the curfew,' to which he was arrested amidst outcry from the community over the incident.

Echoing the cries of the community, co-founder of the B&F Medical Centre, businessman and CBN 90.9 FM radio commentator, Alred C. Frett had remarked in a May 5, 2020, commentary published on VINO that Leonard was "punished for feeding the hungry.”

The public was also outraged that a team of heavily armed police officers was summoned to make the arrest.

According to the Commissioner; however, the law is the law, “People are entitled to their views on this and I understand that there is emotion involved, and the individual concerned is clearly a popular, well-known member of our community.”

“But what you need to understand is the context here… there is more than one potential prosecution here,” CoP Matthews revealed.

Warnings issued before - CoP Matthews 

“There was a previous incident at that location, involving the same person, some weeks previously during the first curfew and on that occasion, the individual [Mr Leonard] and 5 customers were reported for breach of curfew,” he said, noting that the arrest was not the first breach.

Mr Matthews said on the day of the actual arrest, the police had attended in the morning and had warned Mr Leonard about selling to persons other than those authorised by the government, such as those listed as essential workers.

“We are an arm of the state, we act on government instruction and government legislation. What we can never have is a situation where somebody refuses point blank to adhere to the laws of the Territory.”

Mr Matthews questioned that if people are ‘let off’ for being decent persons and good community members, "Where do we go from there?"

He said it is irrelevant what Mr Leonard was selling, as advance warnings were given and the law was still broken, “the police officers are really left with very little options but to enforce the law of the Territory.”

As such, according to the Top Cop, the arrest was made in accordance with the law in effect at the time. 

RVIPF had no responsibility to police supermarket doors - Mr Matthews 

The Commissioner also said that while police officers were stationed at supermarkets to maintain some order, they were not responsible to ensure that only essential workers were entering supermarkets, that was the job of the store. 

'They [supermarkets] should be asking... can you give me some kind of identification to say that you are entitled to shop today, and that's what a lot of the shops did do," he said. 

Mr Matthews also noted that if the force got it wrong with the arrest as decided by the courts, he will be the first to personally apologise to Mr Leonard over the incident.

"At the moment, from what I've seen of the paperwork and what has gone forward to the DPP, the officers have complied with laws in terms of their powers and there was suspicion that there were breaches of the law there," he said.

38 Responses to “Police have no apologies for arrest of Bobby's Supermarket owner- CoP Matthews”

  • ReX FeRal (17/05/2020, 09:48) Like (40) Dislike (11) Reply
    Ok. Apologise for failing to solve forty plus murders in the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS Mick?
    • Guest (17/05/2020, 11:21) Like (18) Dislike (15) Reply
      Because murders are solved with the snap of a finger or crystal ball. Some of you are soooo ignorant and imbecilic it is frightening......
    • clown (17/05/2020, 11:43) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      Why don’t who commit them apologize
    • P (17/05/2020, 12:28) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      True
    • ReX FeRal (18/05/2020, 20:22) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Don’t get vex with the Commissioner of Police he is right, he don’t have any apologies to make, but the government will surely have to folk up some thousands to pay UP. Been warned several times is neither here nor there. The Commissioner needs to state what offense Elton commits under the law and what the charge(s) will be. I’m patiently waiting to hear and see what charge they are going to give Elton.
  • Blackbeard (17/05/2020, 10:03) Like (29) Dislike (28) Reply
    If he can not respect our culture and our people he needs to leave NOW! If he does not share our values he is not worthy to serve us. SERVE and protect. Turning our society into a police state is not out will.
    • P (17/05/2020, 12:31) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      He want here to be like G

    • Foreal (17/05/2020, 12:42) Like (2) Dislike (9) Reply
      He and the rest from down the island
    • agreed (17/05/2020, 20:21) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      All these haters when you comment is pure sense. Arresting a man for feeding the people in a time of emergency when many didnt have food in their home is not our way. Police state is not our will not our way. Tell it to the intelligence
  • facts (17/05/2020, 10:22) Like (16) Dislike (12) Reply
    this man Mathews has lost his credibility now he asking for the military to come in SMH
  • Eagle Eye (17/05/2020, 10:28) Like (9) Dislike (13) Reply

    People w**** supremacy is coming close to a end. Check out the NFAC black movements in america. We going international.

  • Wow (17/05/2020, 10:32) Like (26) Dislike (5) Reply
    No matter how many times they take down Elton thieves those in authority and the list goes on , STILL HE RISE , Blessed and highly favored this young ambitious man. I am pround of you Elton Leonard keep rising and keep pushing son of a praying mom wow
  • Observe (17/05/2020, 10:49) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    Blackboard well said.
  • & (17/05/2020, 11:21) Like (9) Dislike (4) Reply
    Blackbeard you have no no respect your self.
  • Observer (17/05/2020, 11:26) Like (14) Dislike (6) Reply
    Yes he needs to respect our culture of blurring right and wrong. We like to choose when to prosecute and when not to prosecute based on whether the person is from here, whether so and so is their family and whether what they did is beneficial for us. If he can’t get with our nonsensical application of the law and understand we only apply it when it suits us he needs to go.....
    • Truth Sayer (17/05/2020, 12:15) Like (26) Dislike (4) Reply
      To Observer; I do not think people are crying out about the incident about Elton because he is a Virgin Islander or because we want the police act only when it suits us. From what I have heard people are upset because Rite Way at Pasea was allowing curfew breakers in for shopping and no arrests were done there. In any country, the law must be equally applied. We cannot pick and choose who the law should apply to!
  • backwards (17/05/2020, 11:40) Like (26) Dislike (8) Reply
    If someone buys food from an unlicensed vendor do you arrest the buyer? If someone illegally parks somewhere and then go shopping do you arrest the vendors?

    The government barred thousands of citizens in their homes for a month while telling them to prepared for two weeks with no remorse for the suffering of the people. Elton understood that what was happening was injust and immoral so he did the best he could and serve people.

    The fat politicians and fat police officers were sitting on their behinds doing minimal work while others were starving. Our fat politicians gave us headaches by playing on our fears and wasting our time, keeping us at night to listen to a word salad of nothing instead of just waiting until the morning to give their useless reports. And the best the fat police could do is taser unarmed citizens, including a mentally ill man but if the police didn't film the incidents then who did? No citizens have been arrested for violating the curfew to film the police.

    First we get locked in our homes for nonsense though most of us have committed no crime. To hell with the starvation and job loss this lock down has caused. Now we have citizens being arrested for the crimes of other citizens. Crimes that are only crimes because of the passing of rushed and poorly thought out laws that were arbitrarily enforced. What will our government do next?

    The way things are going, we might as well be renamed The Virgin Islands of North Korea.
  • Really? (17/05/2020, 11:47) Like (17) Dislike (6) Reply
    The Commissioner needs to explain exactly what law was broken by Mr Leonard. It is an offence to be on the street without a curfew pass, but there is no offence of "serving non-essential workers" no matter how many times someone might have been warned. It is also ridiculous to suggest that store owners are somehow responsible for checking who should and should not be in their store. They are not there to do the job of the police.

    As Rex says above, how about focusing on some real crime Mick instead of persecuting a store owner for selling a couple of bananas.
    • Correct (17/05/2020, 12:25) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
      Curfew Act 2017:

      Section 4

      4. Where a curfew is imposed under section 3 (1), no person shall be on the
      streets between such hours as may be specified in the Order except under the
      authority of a written permit granted by the Governor as may be specified in the
      Order.

      Section 7

      7. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a person who contravenes section 4 commits
      an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000
      dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both.

      Where is the offence that Elton allegedly committed? Where does it say he has to enforce section 4 by checking who does and does not have permission to be out? The offence here was committed by the person who was out without a pass and that is the only offence provided for by the legislation.

      You cannot just make up offences. They need to be contained in the primary legislation.
  • Wrong (17/05/2020, 11:58) Like (10) Dislike (3) Reply
    "The Commissioner also said that while police officers were stationed at supermarkets to maintain some order, they were not responsible to ensure that only essential workers were entering supermarkets, that was the job of the store."

    Sorry, where does it say this in the law Mick? So the police not responsible for enforcing curfew law but Elton is?
  • ok ok (17/05/2020, 12:11) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply

    Thanks for your prompt update mr commissioner on the Leonard matter; let the people know what is going on with the polish man that violated the curfew I think the said man was involved in an accident in Sea cows bay while out of lockdown going to buy water/ we all know the n***r was tased by your Depatment while he intended to buy water, so we await an update about the violator from Poland: crime is crime and someone’s complexion should not grant such a person an exemption going before the justice system

  • time longer than twine (17/05/2020, 12:16) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply
    Do they EVER own up to their INHUMANE and CORRUPT PRACTICES
  • Charley Rose (17/05/2020, 12:45) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Whether the Commissioner goes or not we as local residents must take responsibilities for ourselves. The problem is not the Commissioner of Police, Local young men and women must develop themselves and try to own properties and educate their children to make a positive contribution towards the development of the country.
    • @ Charley Rose (17/05/2020, 13:54) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
      look around we own most of the land in this territory: how can locals develop when we have so many work permit holders: lots of you can NOT make a living where you are from and end up in BVI Disenfranchising our people.....you can call the ministry of education and find how many of our sons, daughters, grandsons & granddaughters are currently overseas educating themselves but when they return home some document worker holding their job: try get your facts right and stop making assessments based on what you think: oh yes we have been educating our offspring for many many years firstly in barbados, jamaica, trinidad, st Kitts, antigua and most recently in the USVI, Uk and USA
  • Sam (17/05/2020, 13:03) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
    Children Comming up now. Will be the same like us.. When they wrong. We tell them they right
    • at sam (18/05/2020, 05:43) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      its not about wrong or right.
      its lawful or unlawful
      that's how the criminal justice is set up. lawful or unlawful, in a court of law.
  • just asking (17/05/2020, 14:48) Like (4) Dislike (4) Reply
    So why was the person buying the bananas not arrested. He was identified as a non essential worker so was he breaking the curfew act or not. If he was not charge then Elton committed no crime. All I can tell our people that the next COP will be a local so hold on. We got back DPP and AG so she will be the next appointment. Also all the magistrates will also be locals. We are taking back our judicial and law enforcement from the expats.
  • We in Trouble.. (17/05/2020, 15:03) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply

    Whites uniting black fighting. After he done gave the w**** bosses at that super market all our tax payers money for high rent they now harraassing and embarraassing the b**** local business man.. To those insecure BVIslanders that cant stand xpats.. Caribbean people is not your problem..
    ..

  • wh (17/05/2020, 15:18) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ @ black beard what is your Coulter hate and ignorence which one out of the two u all will tied see them en***h man in u face jump high or low that's what is
  • Manabouttown (17/05/2020, 17:32) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    I have read this article in it's entirety and I deemed the new media as credible source. As a result of such I made reference to Statutory Instrument 2920 No . 40
    Curfew Act, 2017( No..20 of 2017)
    Imposition of a Curfew (No.9) Order 2020
    Gazetted 22nd April, 2020.
    Section 1(1) This Order may be cited as the imposition of a Curfew (No.9) Order,2020.
    Subsection (2) This Order shall come into force on the 22nd day of April,2020.
    Question:
    What was the intention of Parliament when they created the curfew (No. 9) Order,2020?
    The intention of Parliament of Curfew (No. 9) Order,2020 is found in section 2 of the said Order..
    Section 2(1) For the purpose of controlling, suppressing or preventing the spread of Covid-19 and for the protection of all persons within the Territory a twenty four hours daily Curfew is hereby imposed from the date and time this Order comes into force until 6.00am on Sunday the 26th of April 2020.
    Who gives Me. Elton Leonard permission to opened his business?
    The Statutory authority pursuant to section 3 of the Curfew (No.9) Order,2020 guaranteed him such privilege.
    Section (3) Notwithstanding subsection (1)(a), for the purpose of enabling certain essential workers in Schedule 2 to obtain supplies,the following supermarkets on Tortola and Virgin Gorda shall be opened exclusively for the purpose between the hours of 8.00am and 7.00pm on 22nd,23rd and 24th April,2020.
    What is the duties of Mr. Leonard as it pertains to the Curfew Order? Does the law gives Me. Leonard the authority to question persons entering his supermarket to ascertain if they are essential workers?
    Where is it written in the Curfew Order 2020 that if Mr. Leonard sell any items or goods from his supermarket that he committed a criminal offence?
    I say that Mr. Leonard arrest was unlawful and his Constitution rights were breached. I wish that our newly appointed DPP will be guided by her Constitutional authority pursuant to section 59 subsection 4 of the Virgin Island Constitution Order 2007 and apply such in this case. Mr. Leonard you have been guaranteed pursuant to section 31 of the Virgin Island Constitution Order 2007.
  • Common law (17/05/2020, 20:14) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The English law system is based on common law. Look at the history of this.

    When they made their laws they took what was commonly known to be right and wrong and put together a common law system.

    This commissioner is out of touch & out of place. If you can give a warning twice you can give it three four five times.

    What law was Mr. Leonard arrested under? The no serving starving people without a pass law?
  • Mick the Massive Mistake (17/05/2020, 20:35) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    Get him out now, back to useless UK asap. Don’t want to pay my money to him or his family to live here for free.
  • Privy Coucil (18/05/2020, 05:39) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    We the people request from Her Majesty in council,and Her Majesty agreed,after the advice from Her Privy Council for a new Constitution order 2007,to help we the people operate in a civil society, now persons who do not understand how the Constitition of 'we the people' operate,want to hold us bondage?and hijack our civil rights.
    'There shall be civil disobedience if Elton Leonard is PERSECUTED for this 'offence' which is not an act of the parliament,made pursuant to section 71 of the Constitution.
    There shall be civil disobedience,in a civil and democratic society,andwe the people shall take our protest and disobedience all the way to Her Majesty,in council at the privy council.
    Section 21 of the police act,cap 165 laws of the bvi, provides for, in section 21 subsection (c) for the COP to summon before a magistrate and to prosecute-persons found committing any offence in the BVI.
    Section 59 of the Virgin islands Constitution Order 2007,provides for the DPP to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court--and to take over or discontinue etc,,,
    But 'we the people,ask for the sake of justice 'what was the legal and lawful justification to arrest,and detain Mr,leonard in the first place?'Then,you are not sure whats the next move?or whats the offence?
    If you had evidence that Mr. leonard,committed a criminal offence under the law of the bvi,which gave you the lawful authority to arrest and detain,and suspend his fundamental rightsand freedoms to liberty,under section 15 of the Constitution,then utilize your authority,under section 21(c) of the police act,and prosecute him yourself.
    By sending a summary matter to the DPP,to decide for you,is an indication that you are not familiar with our bvi laws,and for that,i call on we the people for civil disobedience.
    Respect the authority of the police under the police act, and respect the offices of authority,but rise up in civil,democratic and discipline manner,in the name of justice for Elton Leonard.
    Civil disobedience.
  • Sad (18/05/2020, 08:26) Like (0) Dislike (4) Reply
    The comments here show that most of u are no better than the common criminal. The law is the law. Elton Leonard is supposed to be an upstanding citizen but yet he is facilitating the breaking of the law.
    I am sure if he had spoken to the officer in a respectful manner,the officer would have given the man a bligh but I guess it's the pomposity with which he approached the matter which ticked off the police officer. Indiscipline and lawlessness all around and then we wonder why the scooter riders behave the way they behave.
  • nazi slayer (19/05/2020, 16:22) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    the laws and 'system' of the BVI are so lopsided and archaic, I hope that no one comes to visit, or tour, or make
    a home there. It is too dangerous. If this is a manifestation of British law, based on England, then maybe the
    UK itself should be off limits to anyone else. After first hand experience, being wooed and impressed by what I
    saw, I can say that the BVI should be quarantined to protect everyone else, and all American tender should be
    removed. You folks can reform your government if you wish, but you have a hell of a local problem. I think you
    are right about keeping 'white people' out of your affairs, but you need to post a 'no trespassing' sign before
    someone is hurt and gets real real angry. Thank you for showing your true colors.


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