The four opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters who were arrested in Kingstown on Jan. 20, 2016 and charged with planning to disrupt the Electoral Office have been freed of the charge.
The four were charged that on the date in question, they assembled together outside the precincts of the Electoral Office with intent to carry out a common purpose, to wit, “disruption of the operation of the Electoral Office”.
But the charge was dismissed during the trial before Magistrate Bertie Pompey at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on July 3.
The accused were Violet Joslyn-Hannibal, 53, a vendor of Redemption Sharpes; Sheridon Davis, 43, unemployed of Arnos Vale; Susan Duncan, 50, unemployed of Georgetown, and Osborne Jack, 31, a security guard of Level Gardens
The four were said to have been protesting outside the Electoral Office when they arrested.
The Crown was alleging that the accused conducted themselves in a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood to reasonably fear that they would commit a breach of the peace of Kingstown.
Lawyer Israel Bruce, who represented the accused, told iWitness News that the magistrate dismissed the case after upholding a defence submission that the Crown had provided no evidence to support the charge.
“The evidence what was tendered by the Crown in no way bore out any of what they were [alleging],” Bruce told iWitness News.
“Based on a number of clinical questions asked in cross-examination, it was clear that the Crown did not understand what it is they were charging these people for because there was no evidence that such was the case,” Bruce said.
He told iWitness News that when the Crown closed its case he made a no case submission, arguing that there was no evidence whatsoever to make out the charge.
“There was no civilian brought to say that we felt that their (the accused’s) congregation could have likely led to a breach of the peace. There was no senior officer; the officer who came essentially said we were instructed to go and arrest them.
“Why were you arresting them? What offence did they commit? Where you able to arrest them without any obstruction? Yes. Were you fearful? No. None of that came out. So this is a classical case of persecution,” Bruce told iWitness News.
“Again, the people were arrested because they were protesting as Democrats. The essential line throughout the statements was that there were some protesters and they were wearing NDP symbols and clothing. And that is, seemingly, the only reason they were arrested. We can’t afford to do that. It’s violating people’s rights, as far as I am concerned and it is something that has to stop,” Bruce told iWitness News.
Prosecutor, Station Sergeant of Police Elgin Richards led the case for the Crown.