Case halted against pair charged with breaking Covid rules
A case was halted yesterday against two people who were taken to court after a boat event where reggae artist Shaggy performed.
The pair were discharged on two counts, which they earlier denied.
Selange Gitschner, 41, and Matthew Strong, 44, had pleaded not guilty to failing to take reasonable steps required under Covid-19 regulations to maintain “appropriate physical distancing by not wearing a mask when one is required”.
They also denied having “aided, counselled or procured” Orville Burrell, whose stage name is Shaggy, to contravene an order “in that he, having travelled to Bermuda … did not quarantine until he received his negative Covid-19 result”.
It had been alleged that the offences happened on June 8 last year.
Prosecutor Yanique Gardener Brown said a nolle prosequi was entered yesterday.
She explained: “In brief terms, a nolle prosequi operates as a stay of proceedings and discharge of a defendant unless the Director of Public Prosecutions by writing under her hand consents to further proceedings.”
Ms Gardener Brown added: “This is a matter in which the Crown, in order to prove its case, would rely heavily on the evidence to be given by a number of civilian witnesses.
“Over the last two weeks a large number of these witnesses have either been unable to locate, unavailable to attend Court – for a variety of reasons – or unwilling to attend and give the evidence.
“As such the Crown was not in a position to further advance the prosecution of the defendants.”
Video footage of the event that led to the case was posed on social media in the summer of 2021.
The occasion was said then to have been organised for Revolve, a US online fashion retailer that brought about 70 models and influencers to the island as part of a marketing drive.
Ms Gitschner and Mr Strong, from Warwick, were represented by Victoria Greening and Archie Warner, both of Resolution Chambers.
Ms Greening said the case was set for a two-day trial scheduled to start in Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
She added: “We arrived at 9.30am; at 9.35am the prosecutor handed us a nolle prosequi.”
Ms Greening added that “in practical terms it means the case has been dropped”.
She said: “Despite several court appearances the DPP was not in a position to offer any evidence in the case.
“As a matter of fact, there was never any evidence to support the charges.”
Ms Greening issued a statement June 2021 on behalf of event organiser Dasfete, run by Mr Strong and Ms Gitschner.
She said then that the gathering on the water was “not for recreational purposes, but rather a staged commercial event under the auspices, permission and knowledge of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and other relevant government departments with the view to promoting and marketing Bermuda”.
Dasfete insisted then: “All Covid-19 protocol requirements were met.”
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