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Judge orders removal of containers blocking church

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Shipping containers blocking access to Temperance Hall (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A pastor locked in a legal battle over his church lease has won a court victory after a judge ordered that “eyesore” shipping containers placed in front of his church should be moved.

Their removal was ordered to allow the pastor, Leroy Bean, to regain use of Hamilton Parish Temperance Hall after his ministry was put out of commission for more than a year.

The Supreme Court heard that a “frustrated” trustee of the building broke with other property administrators and left the “eyesore” containers in front of the church as an obstacle to Mr Bean, preventing him from carrying out services.

It was alleged that the trustee, Lionel Raynor, had the containers placed there during a drawn-out dispute with the pastor over rent for the building.

Shipping containers blocking access to Temperance Hall (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Last week Narinder Hargun, the Chief Justice, ordered that the three containers left in front of the site on North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish be removed “forthwith”.

A trial is pending in the civil case brought by trustees of the hall against Mr Bean’s Transfiguration Ministries Church over its use of the building.

The friendly society alleges that Mr Bean’s lease on the property has expired and his church has breached its terms, while Mr Bean’s church maintains his 20-year lease does not expire until next year.

The trial is expected to proceed next month – but the pastor in the meantime lodged a summons for injunctive relief against the trustees.

The summons accuses one trustee, Lionel Raynor, of ordering a trucking company to place two containers connected to his business on the premises in September 2021.

Pastor Leroy Bean, left, speaks at a town hall meeting (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A third container was added a year later, with Mr Bean’s lawyer, Craig Rothwell, requesting an order to have them removed.

Mr Rothwell said the dispute had been before the courts since 2018 – but that “despite the containers still remaining in place, the majority of the trustees do not object to this application”.

“Their position is that we should have sued Mr Raynor individually rather than the trustees,” he added. “Our position is that Mr Raynor is clearly one of the trustees and already a party to this action.”

He told Mr Justice Hargun that the containers on the parking lot rendered it impossible for Mr Bean’s congregation to park.

As a result, the pastor has been forced to turn down weddings and other events.

“It is also very much an eyesore and unattractive for the whole area.”

Mr Rothwell said there had been “blatant disregard” from one trustee in the dispute over non-payment of rent for the hall.

He said the rogue trustee had taken the “unilateral action” of parking the containers in front of the building.

“As far as my client is aware, it’s just his anger at the dispute, which is ongoing – out of frustration, the containers were placed there.”

He added that Mr Bean had threatened to seek an injunction in 2021.

But the pastor opted to wait after learning that Mr Raynor’s wife had died.

“He did not proceed, in the hope that common sense would prevail among trustees.”

Sara-Ann Tucker, representing the trustees, said the group had “tried to reason with Mr Raynor” who remained “unmoved in respect of the containers”.

Mr Justice Hargun said he was satisfied to rule in the pastor’s favour.

“There is no sensible reason why the containers should be placed on the premises when there is an action pending in this court.”

The order was made for the trustees of Hamilton Parish Temperance Hall Friendly society, with an additional order that they refrain from “any further trespass”.

Mr Bean’s summons also calls for compensation for the time since September 4, 2021 when the premises at 93 North Shore Road could not be used.

Mr Justice Hargun said that compensation would be “dealt with at a later stage”.

According to an article posted online by the Bermuda National Trust, the hall is a Grade 1 listed building – but marred by the placement of the containers.

The article adds: “It is extremely disappointing that this very historic building that has played such an important role in the education of Hamilton Parish children should now be used as a dumping ground.”

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.