A lawyer for the teacher against whom two obscene writing charges were withdrawn on Thursday says they are considering the way forward, saying that the charges were intended to embarrass her client.
Secondary school teacher Jozette Bibby-Bowen was slated to reappear in court today in connection with the charges, but Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Colin Williams on Thursday took over and discontinued the charges.
Bibby-Bowen was arrested on March 2 and charged in connection with posts she allegedly made on the social networking website, Facebook.
The 37-year-old Belmont resident was arrested at Bishop’s College Kingstown, where she teaches Forms 2 to 5 the subjects of information technology, electronic document preparation and management and accounting.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges when she appeared in court.
The DPP, in keeping with his constitutional privileges, did not give any reasons for discontinuing the case.
But Kay Bacchus-Browne, one of the lawyers representing Bibby-Bowen, restated to I-Witness News on Friday the defence’s accusation that the state had no reason to arrest or prosecute their client.
“They Nolle prosequi it yesterday. No reason was given, but I suspect the reason is that they simply have no evidence at all, which is what we said from the beginning,” Bacchus-Browne said.
“… they have put her through much embarrassment, loss of income. They have had her arrested, which now amounts to false arrest, false imprisonment and now they just withdraw without giving any reason at all,” Bacchus-Browne said.
Bibby-Bowen has been suspended from the classroom and placed on half salary pending the outcome of the case.
Bacchus-Browne told I-Witness News that while the DPP doesn’t have to give a reason for discontinuing the case, “it doesn’t reflect good at all.
“And, obviously, my client is very upset about the whole turn of events,” she said.
On March 5, three days after being charged, Bibby-Bowne was suspended from duties on half pay.
She was also restricted from leaving St. Vincent and the Grenadines without the permission of the Public Service Commission.
Asked if her client will be seeking restitution, Bacchus-Browne said,
“We are going to discuss the way forward. We are definitely going to discuss the way forward. I think it is an egregious thing because we said from day one there was no evidence.”
She said the prosecution was facing an impossible task in getting a conviction and that the defence was about to file a constitutional motion when the notice of discontinuance was issued.
“I could not see how they could prove that, and, apart from that, when we looked at the Act, when we examined the Section she was charged under, we are of the opinion that it was also unconstitutional to charge her under that section, and we were about to file a constitutional motion.
“She would [have been] in a position where she does not know what she had to prove in order to — or even what the government would have to prove in order to win a case like that.
“The section lack definition.
“We had already prepared it (constitutional motion) and we were about to file. And then, of course, we were waiting to see what is the disclosure and whether they would give the disclosure. I am not really surprised at all. From day one, I kept saying I can’t see how they could prove this charge and it seems to me as if it was some sort of spite work,” Bacchus Browne said.
When Bibby-Bowen reappeared in court on March 17 for a scheduled appearance, the prosecution secured a one-month postponement, indicating that they were not ready to proceed.
The court also ordered disclosure by March 31, which was not done.
“I am happy for her that at least the whole horror of it is over as regards having to face a trail and all of that. But I am quite upset that it looked as if, to me, the state machinery was used to teach her a lesson and to embarrass her. That’s how it seems to me, knowing from day one that they had no evidence,” Bacchus-Browne said.
Asked what lesson was being taught to Bibby-Bowen, Bacchus-Browne said, “I don’t know. I think it is something political. That’s my opinion.
“It seems to have been something political because she is alleged to have said something that appears to be negative to the prime minister. That is how it seems to me. But, as I said, we are going to be looking at the way forward, because the lady has been greatly embarrassed in front of her students and I do not think we are going to just leave it like that,” she said.
Bibby-Bowen’s legal team also includes Linton Lewis, an opposition senator and Nicole Sylvester, president of the SVG Human Right Association.