Three Jamaica nationals who said they landed in Cayman Brac because of bad weather will stand trial in July for importation of ganja.

Oshane Nickoy Ricketts, 29, Andre Washington Robinson, 33, and Nicholas Odell Maxam, 30, are also charged with illegal landing. They were arrested in Cayman Brac on Friday, Jan. 26.

Two other men charged with importing ganja and immigration offenses have pleaded guilty. Yoandy Ebanks-Swaby, 36, and Terry Christopher Wright, 39, have admitted to importing approximately 692 pounds of ganja on Jan. 25. They were arrested later that day in the vicinity of Uncle Bob’s Road in West Bay.

A police press release about an incident around that date said officers of the Joint Marine Unit came upon two vessels acting suspiciously around 4:30 a.m. in the vicinity of the Big Channel entrance to North Sound. One of the vessels continued toward land while the other made off to sea.

The case, as presented by Crown counsel Darlene Oko, is that the three Jamaicans who landed in Cayman Brac were aboard the vessel that made off to sea.

Defense attorney John Furniss said at their first court appearance that they were in the Brac because of the weather. All three, who are from Westmoreland, had listed their occupation as fisherman.

On Wednesday this week, defense attorney Jonathon Hughes elaborated on their position before Magistrate Philippa McFarlane. He agreed that the men had no immigration status when they landed in the Brac: “What took them there was necessity,” he said.

By July, the men will have been in custody six months, he noted.

“Meanwhile, their families in Jamaica are suffering significant hardship,” he said.

Sentencing for Mr. Ebanks-Swaby and Mr. Wright on the ganja charge was set for June 25. Mr. Ebanks-Swaby had entered a plea of “guilty with explanation” on March 29. Mr. Wright, who had a change of attorneys, did not enter his plea until this week. Their sentencing was adjourned because of time needed for the preparation of social inquiry reports.

The trial for the three men who pleaded not guilty was set for three days, beginning July 23. The magistrate said the matter might not take that long, but she wanted to ensure the would be enough time for all issues to be properly aired – relating to both the illegal landing and the ganja importation.

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