A 30-year-old Tunapuna man accused of trafficking a minor and inciting her into prostitution has been granted $2 million bail.
Anthony Smith, a bar manager from Tunapuna Road, El Dorado, was given the hefty bail after he appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court yesterday to answer 21 criminal charges allegedly committed against the minor between November 2014 and September last year.
The victim's name, age and nationality were withheld by Ayers-Caesar as required by the Children's Act and Trafficking in Persons Act under which the charges were laid. The legislation defines a child as anyone under the age of 18.
The father of three, who stood silently with his head bowed in the prisoners' enclosure for the duration of the hearing, was not called upon to plead to the charges as they were laid indictably.
He was charged with five offences for causing or inciting a child into prostitution and 12 for sexually penetrating the child, as well as three charges for committing common assault against the victim. He was also accused of recruiting the child for the purpose of human trafficking.
The charges are alleged to have occurred at unknown dates during the almost one-year period at various locations, including a house at Dookie Lane, Cane Farm, Arouca; Oropune Gardens, Piarco, and once at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
In applying for bail for his client, Smith's lawyer Criston J Williams attempted to assure Ayers-Caesar his client would not abscond as he noted his client had made himself available to police since the alleged victim was found by police at the Cane Farm property last September.
He also requested that Ayers-Caesar grant a cash alternative, as he said his client was the sole provider for his three children – ages five to 11 – and his wife, who is still in police custody in relation to the investigation.Police prosecutor, Insp Richard Taylor, was opposed to bail as he claimed Smith would be a flight risk due to the serious nature of the charges.
"It is our information that the accused has still been in contact with the victim and we would like to ensure this does not continue," Taylor said.Ayers-Caesar agreed that he should be granted bail but denied his request for a lesser cash alternative.
As part of his bail conditions, Smith was ordered to surrender his passport, to report to police twice weekly and to not come within 100 metres of the victim and to refrain from contacting her via cellphone or social media. He is also being represented by Sean Sobers.
Smith is expected to reappear in court on February 1.