Bail refused after alleged boat theft

A man accused of stealing a 25-foot sailboat was remanded in custody after a bail hearing on Monday. 

Robert Paul Yann Savoie, 43, is charged with theft of the craft Sea Fever, valued at less than $10,000, from the Savannah/Newlands area on Nov. 9. He is further charged with failing to surrender to police bail on Dec. 12. 

Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn said she was withholding bail this week because Savoie had not reported to the George Town Police Station as his previous bail required him to do. Further, he had provided officers with false information as to where he was staying. He had no ties to the island and had already shown that he had the ability to leave. The person previously standing as surety had asked to be removed and no new surety had been offered. 

The magistrate did not refer to other information provided by Crown counsel Scott Wainwright, who shared material brought to court by an immigration officer. He said a document from Interpol in Ottawa, Canada, showed that Savoie had a number of aliases and previous convictions, and was currently on probation for fraud in Canada. 

He said after Savoie failed to report as required on Dec. 12, officers went to the address provided and were advised he had not been there since the previous month. They also tried unsuccessfully to contact him by phone. He was subsequently seen in the lobby of a West Bay Road resort and was arrested. 

Mr. Wainwright provided the background to the theft charge. He said Savoie is a Canadian national who came to Cayman in June this year, left in July and returned in October. His visitor’s visa expired on Dec. 14. The Crown’s case was that Savoie was arrested 140 miles south of Cayman, heading to Panama in a stolen vessel. 

He said Savoie was intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and flown back to Cayman. The vessel was towed back, having sustained considerable damage, and was now the subject of a salvage claim. 

Mr. Wainwright explained that Savoie had previously made himself known to the owner and on at least one occasion took the boat out for a test. On the last occasion, he took it without permission. 

The defendant said he was never arrested on the ocean. He told the court he had drifted for three days in a storm, and that he sent a signal and the coast guard rescued him. “The Americans were very good to me,” he added. 

Savoie said he had an email to show that he was authorized to take the boat, and he had intended to go to Cayman Brac. He always had the intention to buy the boat. He was willing to pay the salvage fee and for the damage to the rudder. “If I’m free, I can pay him. If I’m not free I can’t pay,” he asserted. 

Savoie also told the court that if he paid for the boat, the owner had said he would not continue with the charge. Since a previous court appearance, he explained, when he called the lawyer he thought would represent him, nobody answered the phone. “Everything is stopped. I can’t contact my bank. I can’t do anything.” For that reason, he had applied for legal aid before being brought to court on Monday. 

The magistrate said she would have to be satisfied that he would not flee and would have the means to support himself. 

The defendant was remanded in custody until Jan. 6, when he will be brought back to court for another mention. 

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