Mr. Leroy Brown, a resident of a Faiths Pen address in St. Ann was found guilty of carrying on forest industry and carrying a cutlass in a forest reserve contrary to section 31 of the Forest Act, 1996.
Brown was found guilty when the matter was called up for trial before the Honourable Michelle Salmon in the Claremont Parish Court on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Mr. Brown was fined $50,000 or two-months imprisonment for the charge of carrying on forestry industry and $100,000 or three-months imprisonment for the charge of carrying a cutlass.
He was given one (1) month to pay said fines, or alternatively serve the terms of imprisonment which are to run concurrently.
Miss Tanika Stewart, Senior Director, Forest Enforcement Services at the Forestry Department, said the case involved the seizure of over 100 pieces of converted lumber in the Mount Diablo Forest Reserve, a notable hotspot for unscrupulous activity.
According to Miss Stewart, the circumstances of the case are that “while on a routine patrol, Forest Rangers discovered and investigated a beaten down trail when they were alerted by the sounds of a power saw. Upon further investigation, they stumbled upon men who were suspected to have been illegally cutting and converting lumber in the forest reserve. The men were questioned and whilst being escorted from the area, fled from the Rangers in nearby bushes. However, based on the evidence and information collected at the site, a summons was later served on Mr. Leroy Brown to appear before the Claremont Parish Court to answer to charges laid against him”, said Miss Stewart.
The matter was first called up for mention on September 3, 2019, at which time Mr. Brown pled not guilty. However, Mr. Brown later pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced on September 15, 2020.
Miss Stewart is warning persons to desist from carrying out illegal activities in the forests noting that there are several ways of legally accessing and utilizing the forest resources managed by the Forestry Department.
“One of the products offered by the Forestry Department is standing timber. We have Caribbean Pine, Blue Mahoe and Mahogany among others available for harvesting from our forest plantations located in most parishes. However, to access this product, one requires permits and licenses issued by the Forestry Department. Some of these includes permits and licenses to operate a sawmill, to cut and/or extract timber/forest produce, to use and/or transport a power saw, to use a forest road etc.,” Miss Stewart said.
The Forestry Department is encouraging members of the public who are interested in obtaining any of the above permits or licenses to contact the Forestry Department and become regularized.
Citizens are also being encouraged to call the Forestry Department at 876-618-3205, to report any illicit or illegal activity that may be occurring in any forest estate. All information provided will be handled with the strictest of confidence, and persons are not required to provide their names or contact information when making reports.