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Fisherman cleared of money laundering

Free man: Kenith Bulford leaves Supreme Court yesterday (Photo by Akil Simmons)

A fisherman who said he earned tens of thousands of dollars by operating Crown and Anchor tables at cricket games has been cleared of money laundering.

Kenith Bulford admitted trying to take about $325,000 in American currency to Britain, but always maintained that the cash had been “hard-earned” from “legitimate” sources.

The 40-year-old accused, along with two other women, Wanda Bowen and Malina Bean, was detained on March 5, 2013, at the airport after Police found nearly $315,000 hidden in the soles of sneakers in the women’s luggage. Mr Bulford himself had $10,000 in cash in his jacket pocket and in his luggage.

Yesterday afternoon, a jury at the Supreme Court took a little more than two hours to find Mr Bulford not guilty of two money-laundering charges.

Mr Bulford, who showed little emotion as the verdicts were returned, was then told he was free to leave the court by Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe.

His lawyer, Larry Mussenden, told The Royal Gazette: “I want to thank the jury for their consideration and for returning unanimous not guilty verdicts on both counts. It is clear that the evidence in this case was extremely weak from the start, and I am surprised that the Crown brought this case against Mr Bulford.

“I will have to take instructions from my client with regards to the money which has been found by the jury’s verdict not to be the proceeds of crime. In my view, he is entitled to have all these funds returned to him.”

During the trial, prosecutors said that Mr Bulford was a high-ranking member of a West End gang and was involved in the importation and supply of drugs. They alleged that Mr Bulford had earned the $325,000 seized at the airport from crime and that he had been trying to smuggle the cash to Britain. On the stand, Mr Bulford rejected the assertions that he was involved in gang activity and drug dealing.

He claimed he had earned a great deal of money from operating Crown and Anchor tables at cricket matches in Bermuda, and also earned cash from his fishing business.

Mr Bulford admitted he had hidden the money in the soles of the sneakers because he had previously had “issues” with Police seizing his money.

But he maintained that all the money had been earned from hard work and legitimate sources.

Mr Bulford said he had asked a neighbour, Ms Bowen, to help him by carrying the shoes with the cash hidden in them to Britain, and she had agreed.

He told the court he was going abroad to settle and live for a while, and that he needed the cash to set himself up in England.

Prosecutors said the explanation of how he earned the money was a “front” to hide his criminal activities.

But the jury cleared the father-of-two of two charges of possessing the proceeds of crime relating to the money found in the women’s luggage and the cash found on him and in his bags.

Mr Mussenden said: “In respect of the gang evidence of Sergeant Rollin, I objected to this officer being considered an expert in this case. I am of the view that he does not qualify as a gang expert in this case or in any other case.

“Equally so for Detective Sergeant Bhagwan, who was tendered as an expert on drugs in Bermuda and overseas. I objected to his expertise when it came to overseas jurisdictions. I believe the verdicts back up my objections.”

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<p>One who was not so fortunate</p>

When police stopped Kenith Bulford at LF Wade International Airport on March 5, 2013, they also detained two other women, whom they believed were travelling with him.

Officers searched Wanda Bowen and Malina Bean’s luggage and discovered nearly $315,000 in American currency that had been hidden in the soles of new Nike trainers.

Both Bowen and Ms Bean were charged with money laundering, but charges against Ms Bean were dropped after Bowen pleaded guilty, accepting full culpability.

Bowen was jailed for two years in January 2014 for her role in the money-laundering operation.

The 43-year-old took responsibility for several bundles of cash found hidden in eight pairs of men’s sneakers inside both her luggage and that of Ms Bean.

Speaking at her sentencing in 2014, lawyer Marc Daniels told the Supreme Court that Bowen was a divorced mother who accepted an opportunity to fly overseas and brought Ms Bean as a friend.

“She accepts that she should have exercised greater due diligence before putting herself at risk and her family at risk,” Mr Daniels said.

Bowen apologised to her children for her actions and the hurt that it caused them. “I have been in prison in my own head watching them go through the ups and downs,” she said. “I would never agree to accept any money of any sort knowing that if something went wrong I could be in the position where I am now.”