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Tourist given absolute discharge for resisting Customs search

A cruise ship visitor walked free from Magistrates’ Court after spending a night in jail for refusing to obey a Customs officer.

Anthony La Cova, 35, was arrested after he refused to show his identification or allow his personal items to be searched.

The waiter, from Brooklyn, New York, was holidaying aboard the

Veendam with his parents as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.

Senior Crown counsel Cindy Clarke told the court that plain clothes officers approached La Cova at the Pier Six terminal at 11.30pm last Wednesday. La Cova refused to show identification when asked.

An officer showed her own identification, and told La Cova that she was a Customs official who wished to search his property. La Cova slammed both fists on a table and shouted: “You are not searching me!”

He was then escorted to the cruise ship’s security area, where he snatched his bag back from the Customs officer.

When another officer came to assist, La Cova attempted to strike him. He was detained until the arrival of police, who arrested him.

When cautioned at Hamilton Police Station, La Cova said that the official who spoke to him had not been dressed like a Customs officer.

La Cova first denied the charge of refusing to obey a Customs officer but later admitted the offence.

His distraught parents told Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner that their son suffered from paranoia and is under a doctor’s care.

La Cova denied any psychological problems and insisted on speaking for himself.

Mr Warner told him they would not, and adjourned the matter for several hours. At his second appearance La Cova, assisted by duty counsel Darrell Clarke, apologised, adding: “I am going to plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court.” The offence carries a maximum fine of $6,000.

Mr Warner told La Cova: “This is a minor confrontation in a Customs area where, for whatever reason, you resisted attempts to search you. Nobody got hurt. As a matter of fact, you got the worst of it.”

Noting the statements made by La Cova’s parents, Mr Warner said: “Your father has mentioned your psychological state. Although I am not an expert in that area, as a casual onlooker it is clear to me that you are not, quote, all there.”

He granted La Cova an absolute discharge, telling the family: “Go on and enjoy the rest of your vacation.”

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Published August 22, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 22, 2011 at 10:19 am)

Tourist given absolute discharge for resisting Customs search

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