The police officer charged in connection with the July 7, 2017 burglary of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Postal Corporation has had the charge amended to include other items and has been slapped with another charge.
Further, Constable Ettian Charles, will have to spend another week on remand, pending bail review, as bail was denied when he re-appeared in court on Wednesday.
Charles was initially charged with the theft of EC$75,000 in cash from the Postal Corporation in Kingstown, a crime he allegedly committed on July 7, 2017.
But when he appeared in court on Wednesday, the charge was amended, with the cash amount reduced to EC$74,121.46.
The charge was further amended to include EC$5,486.96 in cheques, one uninterrupted power supply valued EC$9,000 and one external battery pack, valued EC$3,000.
He was further charged that on July 7, 2017, at Kingstown, being employed in the Public Service and being charged with the performance of duty by virtue of such employment, agreed to receive property for himself or any other person on account of anything omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duty of office as a policeman.
Charles was initially denied bail and was remanded in custody when he first appeared in court, before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias at the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown one week earlier.
And when he appeared before Magistrate Bertie Pompey on Wednesday, bail was also denied for another week, after the magistrate heard submissions from both sides.
In mitigation, defence counsel Carlos James said that Charles is the main breadwinner in his family and also helps to take care of his elderly father, who is blind.
For a second consecutive week, the elderly man turned up to court, and on Wednesday, his wife and one of their daughters accompanied him.
James told the court that his client was on duty elsewhere at the time of the burglary at the Postal Corporation.
But in response, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche told the court that an accused person does not have to be at the scene of a crime to be convicted of the crime.
In support, he cited cases in which persons convicted of murder were not at the scene, mentioning among them, Dole Chadee, who was executed in Trinidad in 1994 after being convicted of murder.
Delplesche said that the father of the accused being blind is not a reasonable ground for bail.
The prosecutor said that the conspiracy case is very complex.
“It involves people far and near, high and low, and also wide.”
Delplesche said that the investigation has made significant progress in the week since Charles first appeared in court, hence another charge being laid.
“It is not a question of where the investigators are scratching the surface. They are actually digging into the surface and are unearthing facts.”
He said that the investigators are good and need resources, including time.
Delplesche said that the prosecution is objecting to bail so that the investigation cannot be hindered, adding that the Crown is fearful that if the accused is granted bail, “all of the investigation that has been done could come to naught”.
He said the law presumed innocence on the part of the accused, but also provides for the investigation to proceed unhindered.
“I again commend Corporal Duncan, [the lead investigator,] because this matter took place on the 7th of July and we are still in July and the corporal was able to unearth certain things — tremendous work he did,” Delplesche told the court, adding to Duncan, “You are a good man.”
“I am asking this court, like Columbus, give us a little more time. Columbus asked for a few more days. Give us a little more time and Corporal Duncan, Bion Duncan, can get more fruits of his investigation,” Delplesche said, reiterating that the conspiracy is very complex.
“It touches people high and near, far and wide. Duncan is bringing in his drag net. The fruits are coming in. We are asking your honour to remand this accused.”
In response, Pompey said that he does not believe in pre-trial punishment. He said that he took into account the accused man’s right to bail, but added that on the other hand, justice must prevail.
“Justice is both for the defence and the State. And I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for an additional one week,” the magistrate said and remanded Charles in custody until next Wednesday for bail review.