Charges against Andro dismissed

Charges against Androgroup Elevator Ltd. for employing a person without a work permit were dismissed in Court on Monday after Magistrate Nova Hall found there was no case to answer.

Similar charges against Canadian national Allister Hayes were also dropped for the same reason, but Ms Hall ruled he did have to answer the charge of overstaying between 1 August and 6 September 2004.

Another charge against Androgroup Elevator owner Alan Roffey was dismissed last week.

In reading her ruling on the charges that were dismissed, Ms Hall acknowledged that the evidence presented by the Crown did contribute to the suspicion that crimes had been committed, but is did not establish proof of the crime.

Ms Hall said the strongest piece of evidence that Mr. Hayes was employed by Androgroup Elevators Ltd illegally was a cheque paid by that company to Mr. Hayes.

Crown Counsel Scott Wilson had argued the cheque was ‘solid gold evidence’ that Mr. Hayes had been employed by Androgroup Elevators, but Ms Hall did not agree.

‘There is no one strong or inescapable inference that can be drawn by the cheque,’ she said.

Mr. Roffey said he was very pleased the charges against him and his company were dismissed.

‘It was a considerable surprise to me that these charges were ever brought by the Immigration Department in the first place,’ he said. ‘Especially after the Work Permit Board, on which Mr. [Franz] Manderson sits as a non-voting member, had already decided, as long ago as 19 September 2005, that the overwhelming documentary evidence made it clear that the application for Mr. Hayes’ full work permit was made by Androgroup Ltd. and not Androgroup Elevators Ltd.

‘It was disappointing that the Crown eventually conceded that Androgroup Ltd. was the employer only during [Mr. Hayes’ attorney QC Ramon] Alberga’s submissions that there was no case to answer on behalf of Mr. Hayes.

‘It had taken nearly three days of valuable Court time before that important concession was made by the Crown,’ Mr. Roffey said.

Stephen Hall-Jones, attorney for Androgroup Elevators and Mr. Roffey, submitted that this was a case in which the costs should be borne by the Department of Immigration.

Ms Hall denied that application after it was noted by Mr. Wilson that there had been sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution, and that Mr. Roffey had brought some of the suspicion onto himself.

With respect to the overstaying charge against Mr. Hayes, Ms Hall said she was bound to act in accordance with the law.

A law passed by the Legislative Assembly on 27 July would have allowed Mr. Hayes to remain on the island after his temporary permit expired on 1 August until his full work permit application was heard by the Work Permit Board.

However, the law was not gazetted until 8 August. Ms. Hall said she had heard no evidence that stated the law had retroactive effect.

Therefore, Ms. Hall said that officially, Mr. Hayes had no right to remain on the island after 1 August, and the only evidence that mattered was that he was present on the island after 2 August.

During in the trial, passport evidence showed Mr. Hayes had returned to the island 1 August after leaving 23 July.

Although the charge stated Mr. Hayes had overstayed between 1 August and 6 September, Mr. Hayes might have been covered under the new law after it was gazetted on 8 August, Ms Hall did not limit the dates, saying Mr. Hayes had to answer the charges as stated.

The trial on the overstaying charges was put down for continuance on 13 February.