Former registrar of the High Court, Vanessa Tamara Gibson-Marks. (iWN file photo)

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has described as “scandalous” the penalty handed down to former registrar of the High Court, Vanessa Tamara Gibson-Marks, who was fined EC$10,500 after pleading guilty to a charge of theft of EC$21,925 and abuse of her authority as Registrar of the High Court.

Magistrate Carla James last Tuesday fined Gibson-Marks EC$4,500 to be paid in one month or three months imprisonment on the theft charge.

On the abuse of authority charge, Gibson-Marks was ordered to pay EC$6,000 in three months or spend six months in jail.

Eustace, speaking on his weekly radio programme on Monday, said the case is “of prime importance”

“And I believe we will have to expand our involvement and discussion where that matter is concerned,” he said.

“I think the whole issue of the registrar has left a very bitter taste in the mouth of Vincentians and in the minds of many Vincentians. People believe we have two systems of justice: one for those who we figure are important, another one for those who we figure are poor and unimportant.

“This decision of the court, even the charges that were laid, to my mind are lacking, and the decision taken, as far as that is concerned, for me is scandalous,” Eustace said.

Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan asked Gibson-Marks to resign in May, and an investigation was later launched into her conduct as Registrar of the High Court.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs, told the media last month that Gibson-Marks repaid over $300,000, that had been withdrawn from an account she held in trust at the St. Vincent Cooperative Bank.

Gibson-Marks was not charged in relation to the EC$300,000.

However, Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams discontinued a false certification charge against Gibson-Marks, after she pleaded guilty two weeks ago to the theft and abuse of power charge.
She had pleaded not guilty to all three charges when she initially appeared in court on Aug. 21.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)

Eustace said he thinks the outcome of the case “sends a very wrong message to the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and it sends a wrong message to the young people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who, for crimes of much lesser importance and gravity, we find many of our youngsters in jail.

“These things, while they don’t beat you over the head like if a hammer is hitting you, they hit you in a much harder way, because your mind is constantly seeking for answers as to why certain things happen.

“And I don’t think the message from this particular issue here is a good one at all. And it will have repercussions further down the road, you know,” Eustace said.

He said people are going to point to decisions like these and question the role of the court.

“It lessens the court in people’s eyes, because they expect justice and they don’t see this as justice, because lesser crimes have taken place with more severe punishment.”

Eustace said the difference in punishment handed down by the court depends on the social status of the accused.

“We must not tolerate this as a nation. We can’t have two sets of rules, or what it seems like to the general public that people are being threated differently because of their status in society. We can’t have that.

“We don’t want our people to grow up thinking that is what we are doing, but that is what it appears to be. And in fact, that is what it is. And while we talk about crime and so on in our society and so forth, and what we need to do about this issue here, people put their hands up in the air. Where are we going?” Eustace said.

Ahead of the sentencing last week, defence attorney Alberton Richelieu submitted to the court documents providing that Gibson-Marks had repaid the EC$21,925.

Gibson-Marks, who was born in St. Lucia, is wife of Vincentian lawyer, former Unity Labour Party senator, Ronald Marks.

11 replies on “Outcome of former registrar case ‘scandalous’ — Opposition Leader”

  1. The prime villain here is Colin Williams who failed to bring enough charges, especially the theft of the $300,000, which was still a crime even if the money was returned.

    The second and related villain is our slavery-based socio-cultural system which allows attractive, pale complexioned, educated, high status, well connected women to be treated preferentially and deferentially.

    A poor black man with no ties to the elite would have been sent to prison for years for the same transgressions. Just look at the inmate population at Belle Isle for the proof.

  2. Before the case was heard I was having lunch with a group at Cobblestone Inn, the conversation went like this.

    “she is one of them” “slap on the wrist, then let go” ” the charges will be reduced so they can be heard in the Magistrates Court instead of the High Court” “the amount she is charged with will be reduced to save her jail time” “she will get off scott free” “come up to the office on a Saturday morning to receive your punishment” “the case will be Nolle prosequi” “I doubt she still has the money” “she is a member of the ULP family, and also a member of the Judiciary family, she will walk”

    Now somewhere in there is a mixture of the truth and untruth, we now know what happened when she was convicted and sentenced. So we know the outcome, its not nice and its not pretty, I believe its probably blighted some of our judiciary for the rest of their professional career’s. To some it has just added more to distrust of by us.

    I can tell you stories about Vincentian lawyers stealing clients funds, lawyers involved with crooks and offshore bankers and banks, our Judiciary just cannot be relied upon. Lawyers who today carry some respect, not much, but some.

    So Honourable Mr Eustace, don’t be disappointed you guessed the final outcome same as everyone else did, we all expected this kind of crap.

  3. The leader of the opposition surely got this one right. It is a public outrage over which massive demonstration could be organised.The administration of justice as evidence by the handling of this case from the AG to the unbelievely outrageous decision handed down by this young magistrate. Mass protests letters should be written to the chief justice calling for an investigation of the judicial processes in this case.
    My main points of interest here are. Where is the court order for . restitution of the $300,000 we heard of , ironically missing from the funds of the EC Supreme court but held in trust by the former Registrar.
    Why was the charge made for the full amount and an incitement made to go to the high court. In the circumstances we can only assume that after being caught the lady in a plea bargain was advised to repay the large deposits the PM spoke about. In any event the act of theft had already been committed so it did not matter excemp in contemplation of mitigation. Anyone ever wondered why a more serious charge of embezzlement was not preferred.after all this is the normal charge used when the theft action is aggravated. For instance she was a high public official holding public monies in trust. That trust was violated. Why did the DPP drop the charge which falls under the heading of fraud.was this to avoid high court proceedings and the attendant consequences?. Lower courts, quick dispatch,low fine, no publicity.
    There is the baffling question of no order for restitution of the funds .stolen. What about eligilability to ever hold public office again or get elected to Parliament.? If Tamara was charged for embezzlement it did matter how much was stolen. The violation of trust by a high public officer by way of permanently depriving the victims would have been sufficient yo land a jail sentence.
    Last note. The media and public must not be afraid of deterred from criticizing the magistrate outrageous decision. The English law allows this once reasonable and does not scandalize the court. Ironically I’m the present case the outcome itself is scandalous.
    People must speak out against this injustice, not only the opposition. This is a national disgrace!

  4. The Chief Justice needs to investigate all the circumstances and the legal process surrounding Miss Ting’s theft case.The magistrate ought to be ashamed of her self. She should be hauled before the CJ for an explanation.

  5. “Her Attorney submitted documents to the court proving that Gibson-Marks had repaid the EC$21,925.” What about evidence that she had repaid the $279,175?

  6. One important point should not be missed: if any legal decision underscores the need to never surrender the right to final justice in Brtiain’s Privy Council, this is it. Thank God the people of SVG had the collective wisdom to vote NO to the Gonsalves-Campbell Constitution.

  7. How is the new mansion coming on Mr DPP, I had a look at it yesterday, had a walk around it, that huge wall biggest in SVG, it’s massive, must be whats called a ULP low income house for upperclass people.

    enormous, collossal, giant, gigantic, vast, mammoth, massive

    Its a palace Colin, a palace.

    I will post a few photo’s and a map shortly, so as we can all see how the other half live.

  8. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Dangling the justice system like a puppet on a string – and getting away with it. Another Master Stroke. Ask yourself, though, who won?

    Probably the most salient – and frightening – point is C. ben-David’s about the Privy Council.

  9. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Mr Binose, What is the going rate for a nolle? Or a discontinuation? Are the rates higher
    the less forthcoming the explanations are for the nolle or discontinuation?

  10. Mr Ferrari, by law as set out in the constitution the DPP only answers to himself. I do not know if he is in any way influenced or beholden to the ULP Party or Lord Gonsalves, and I will not comment on my beliefs about that.

    What I personally believe is that when the British designed and drafted our constitution, they did so with British fair play in mind. They did so that if any rogue governments brought political prosecutions against people such as the current crap against Bigger Biggs, the DPP would step in and stop such actions by the ‘nolle prosequi’ procedure. I am sure they never imagined that it could work in reverse as I believe it has been applied by Colin Williams.

    Now if I have broken any laws by giving or voicing my opinions I am sorry but I am saying what many Vincentians believe. I and perhaps many others are not satisfied by the DPP’s actions in recent cases, and more so since he took office.

    Now by law we are not supposed to try and influence his procedures or there outcomes, and I am truly not trying to do that, and nor am I capable of doing so. But I feel we must have the right to criticise his actions. He is not God although his actions may make some believe he is.

    I wish to show no disrespect of person or office.

    Because you have a right under the constitution does not mean you should exercise those rights, because that is your prerogative, or because you can. There must be a consideration into what the public, the citizens portray as fair play and common decency. Other than that it makes a mockery of the law and Vincentian justice.

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