Some persons accused of burglarising yachts walk free because a lack of prosecution.
In many instances, at the time of the trial, the virtual complainants are no longer in the country.
And the Government says it is considering an amendment to the laws to try to arrest this problem.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who is Minister of Legal Affairs, told Parliament on Tuesday that his government is considering having designated Justices of the Peace to take the evidence of the virtual complainant.
He was responding to Opposition legislator, Sen. Linton Lewis, who asked what steps are being made to reduce substantially the incidents of theft on board yachts moored here.
Gonsalves said that if someone is arrested, they could be present when the virtual complainant gives a statement to designated persons.
That statement could be used during the trial “and obviously given the weight which the magistrate thinks that bit of evidence should be given,” he said.
“I think we need to introduce that in a creative manner to try to stop some of these things that when you arrest some person the case is called, the lawyer says the virtual complainant is called, the virtual complainant is in New York or Saskatchewan, case dismissed for lack of prosecution.
“We have to plug that loophole. We have to use our creative minds and this is what I have suggested to the Honourable Attorney General that they get it drafted for us so that we bring that to help to close that particular loophole,” he further said.
Gonsalves said that the provision “is not as neat as what we have inherited from the British, but they don’t have yachts.
“We have to fashion our law to help to protect our breadfruit tree,” he said, using a colloquial expression for source of income.
“… some of these cocky fellas (accused persons), when the virtual complainant ain’t around, you see how they walk out of the police station, they bumping. I mean no, we really have to deal with that one. That is in the works,” he further said.
Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer, said he would expect the Bar Association to make suggestions even as he said some of its members would complain.
“But it is not unconstitutional,” he said, adding that lawyers might complain about a lack of cross-examination.
But he said the new provision could help with convictions.
“So, in addition to detection, we will get convictions more and hopefully, that will act as a deterrent.”