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Wednesday 21 November 2018
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Illegal Radio operator fined $50,000

AN amateur radio operator who operated radio-transmitting equipment without a licence in 2007 has been slapped with a $50,000 fine by two appellate court judges.

Justices Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Mark Mohammed on Thursday fined Desi Bonterre and ordered him to pay the sum in 90 days.

Otherwise he faces a jail term of five years.

In delivering the sentence, Mohammed said a reprimand and discharge, as sought by Bonterre, would send the wrong message to potential offenders. He said the prosecution of such offences was important for the regulation of the telecommunications sector.

A magistrate’s order in 2011 which led to Desi-Lee Bonterre being discharged of the two offences wasoverturned by the two judges last year. They substituted a guilty verdict and reserved their ruling on an appropriate sentence.

The authority was represented by special prosecutor Sean Cazabon.

Bonterre was charged by Harrinath Sawh of the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) on September 12, 2007, with operating radio-transmitting equipment without a licence at his home at King Street, Point Cumana, Carenage.

He was eventually granted a licence by TATT and his attorney Sastri Roberts asked the judges for leniency for his client, who he said worked with REACT, whose members operate amateur radios during natural disasters. Bonterre also works with the Red Cross.

In his defence at this trial, Bonterre said while the police found radio-transmitting equipment at his home, he told them he was repairing some of it and once he did so he would test it to ensure it was working properly. Bonterre had functioning and non-functioning equipment when the police came.

After Bonterre won his case at the magistrates court, TATT appealed.

In their ruling, Soo Hon and Mohammed said although the magistrate did not articulate her reasons for finding Bonterre not guilty, TATT was able to point to evidence at trial which could have resulted in a conviction.

“It is clear to us that the magistrate’s finding was completely contrary to the weight of the evidence. The evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses was clear, cogent and compelling. In our view, the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt,” the judges said.

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