Pierre Richard Cervilus, who owns and operates a barber shop at La Lay Grand Bay, appeared before Magistrate Candia George this morning.
According to his charge, Cervilus failed to leave the country without presenting himself to the immigration department after he was permitted to stay in Dominica for three months. Cervilus arrived in Dominica on July 22, 2007 via the Melville Hall Airport.
According to the details of the case, which were read by Police Prosecutor Inspector Claude Weekes, the defendant was granted an extension of stay for the period November 23, 2007 to February 28, 2008.
Records from the immigration department did not indicate that the defendant presented himself for a further extension of stay, nor did he attempt to get regularized during the amnesty ordered by government in 2010 following the disastrous Haiti earthquake, Weekes said.
Facts of the case also revealed that Cervilus did not have a valid work permit. When asked why he did not seek to get regularized, the defendant refused to give a satisfactory reason, Weekes said.
“I sorry, but I was afraid,” he told police.
Cervilus was apprehended during a police mobile patrol in Grand Bay on December 31, 2011.
At about 3: 30 p.m. Sergeant V. Cadette and other officers had received certain information and approached the defendant. On noticing his accent police asked about his nationality to which Cervilus identified himself as a Haitian national who had been living in Dominica for the past five years. When asked for his passport, the defendant could not make it available.
He later showed police a Haitian passport which expires on May 26, 2016 and told police that he had a previous passport which was maliciously destroyed by his girlfriend (a Dominican) during a fight about three years ago.
As to whether the defendant made a report about his passport being destroyed, the immigration department confirmed that they had received no such information.
His lawyer Wayne Norde asked the court to treat his client’s situation as an exceptional one. He said that Cervilus had initially applied for a work permit while his stay was valid and that it was in the process of being organized but was halted when his passport got destroyed.
Norde asked the court not to send his client back to Haiti stating that it was very difficult to get a visa to return to Dominica.
“His intentions are good,” Norde told the court.” Pointing to the court that his client had applied for the permit a second time and had a registered barbershop in Grand Bay, Norde told the court that his client had a three year old son who is dependent on him and had made his life here.
Magistrate George however, drew attention to the passport being torn three years ago (2009), which she said leaves the defendant with an entire year to seek an extension of stay.
“His intention was never to run from the law,” Norde responded. “I’m asking you to treat this one as an exceptional circumstance” he pleaded.
While acknowledging that Cervilus had indeed contributed to the economy and was in good standing with the law, save for today’s offenses, she stressed that the message needs to be sent out that “when people come here they need to get regularized and do thing properly.”
“When they are here they need to do it right,” she reiterated.
She drew attention to an instance where she had allowed a non-national to remain in the country simply due to the fact that the woman had a new born baby that needed to be breast fed and she did not wish to separate the mother. “I do not see that this one (Cervilus’s matter) as exceptional,” she told the court.
In presenting her sentence George stated, “I know you have not gotten yourself in any criminal activity, however the criminal laws of the land have to be respected. While you made efforts to get regularized, there was a period where an extension was not sought.”
Weekes in efforts to strengthen the prosecution’s case said that while he too believes that the defendant had made a contribution to society, “what is right is right and what is wrong it wrong.”
“While we are seeking to help Haitians and others we have to do it right, they cannot just do anything. It has to be within the parameters of the law,” he added.
Cervilus was ordered to be removed from the state with “proper escort.”
He was not deported and is free to return at any time.