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Men fined for helping to dismiss traffic ticket fines

Two men were fined a total of almost $5,000 yesterday after admitting taking part in a scheme to dismiss traffic tickets.

Calshunto James, 35, and Kenton Smith, 34, pleaded guilty in Magistrates Court to conspiring to pervert the course of justice by planning the destruction or suppression of traffic tickets.

The court heard that the two, who were not members of the police force, conspired with Kyle Wheatley, 37, then a police officer who dropped 63 traffic tickets between July 1, 2017 and May 8, 2018.

Wheatley, whose case was taken to the Supreme Court, pleaded guilty to the offence on December 9, 2019 after resigning from the police force. He was sentenced to 2½ years’ imprisonment.

Alan Richards, for the Crown, said that James, who is also an officer with the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and Smith helped to get 17 tickets dismissed altogether.

He added that Smith acted as a “broker” for Wheatley and recommended that people approach him to have their tickets dismissed for a fee.

Mr Richards admitted that the case had aged beyond the “custody threshold” and could not qualify for a prison sentence because the case had taken so long to resolve.

But he instead asked that they both receive a suspended prison sentence.

Marc Daniels, who represented James, said that his client did not receive any cash out of the scheme.

He added that his client did not initially think he was involved in anything illegal because traffic tickets could be dismissed at the discretion of the officers.

Mr Daniels said: “There are circumstances where police can decide to cancel a ticket.”

Charles Richardson, who represented Smith, echoed this statement.

He said: “There’s a culture in Bermuda of what they call ‘pulling tickets’.

“It is commonly known in Bermuda that police officers can pull tickets, and I don’t think anyone knew, until this case, that this was, under some circumstances, unlawful — including my client.”

Mr Richardson added: “There was money involved — that’s the one thing that distinguishes this case from the rest.

“My client’s position has always been that he was not aware of these machinations.”

The court heard that both men had no previous convictions of a like nature.

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo fined James, from Southampton, $2,500 and Smith, from Paget, $2,000 for the offences.

He ordered them to pay by June 24.

UPDATE: this story has been amended to correct earlier reporting that the two men were officers in the Bermuda Police Service.

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