Magistrate Rickie Burnet is scheduled to hand down a decision on Nov. 2 in a case in which former police officer Granville De Freitas is charged with possession of 62lbs of meat, which the Crown is alleging was stolen.
De Freitas sprang to the nation’s attention on Dec. 29, 2015 as one of two police officers who took opposition politician Ben Exeter to the Central Police Station after his arrest in Kingstown as the new Parliament was being opened.
Exeter had initially come to the attention of the police because he had in his possession a licensed firearm.
But De Freitas, who would resign from the police force in March 2016, ending his six-year career in law enforcement, had accused Exeter of striking his hand against a parked vehicle during the arrest, causing actual bodily harm.
A number of other charges were also brought against the opposition politician.
However, by the time the charges against Exeter came up for hearing in June 2017, De Freitas had resigned from the police force and had become a fisherman.
He, however, told the court that he was not fired for dishonesty as defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Browne had alleged.
But this time, De Freitas, a Chester Cottage resident, is defending himself against a dishonesty-related charge, brought against him by the Crown.
He was arrested in North Union on July 4, 2017 as police were conducting stop and search.
At the time, De Freitas, who was travelling aboard a minivan, had in his possession 62 lbs of meat, which the police accused him of stealing.
He was initially arraigned at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court before the matter was transferred to the Georgetown Magistrate Court.
After the July 4 stop and search, police conducted a search at De Freitas’ house, during which they removed a number of items, including a knife that he said had brown hair on it from a large goat he said he had slaughtered.
De Freitas took police to a spot along the riverside where he said he had slaughtered the animal, but they saw no signs of blood there. De Freitas attempted to explain away the absence of blood by saying the rain had washed it away.
The Crown is claiming that the meat that De Freitas had in a backpack when police officers met him in the minivan is actually beef, which they are claiming came from a cattle that was killed in Byera.
The Crown has called several witnesses, including a public health professional who reportedly tested the meat.
But then when the prosecution closed its case last Thursday, De Freitas entered a no-case submission on several grounds.
He argued that the exhibits –namely the backpack and another plastic bag with meat that the police say they had retrieved from the van in which De Freitas was travelling — were tampered with.
De Freitas further told the court that the exhibit tags were missing from the bag and noted that they were not inside the bag or in the fridge in which the police say the meat was stored.
The ex-cop has also hinged his no-case submission on his claims that the backpack that the prosecution presented in court was not the one he had when he was arrested, in that neither his nor the police officer’s initials were present.
He further said that the prosecution had failed to present to the court meat that a health inspector had examined and concluded was pork.
His no-case submission rested also on the grounds that a piece of meat that was inspected and said to be pork was also absent.
De Freitas has further argued that a particular piece of meat was not showed to the inspector who had concluded that it was beef.
He further told the court that the meat was weighed on a scale belonging to someone who did not testify to the court as to whether the instrument was working properly.
The investigating officer had claimed that he got a plastic bag containing meat from the van driver at a time earlier than when he actually did, De Freitas further said.
He further told the court that the investigating officer had said that he had visited a scene in Byera where he met the carcass of a black cattle.
De Freitas noted that the hair on the knife met at his home was brown, and argued that it is impossible for brown hair to come from a black cattle.
He further informed the court that he would not waste his time in putting up a defence but would allow the court to come to a conclusion based on what the prosecution had presented.
As a consequence of his arrest on Dec. 29, 2015, Exeter was also slapped with a charge that he assaulted Corporal 632 Morris, acting in due execution of his duty.
He was also charged that at the said date and time, he resisted the arrest of Corporal 632 Morris, acting in due execution of his duty, in addition to a charge relating to taking a firearm to a public meeting.
Exeter was charged alongside NDP youth activist Shabazaar GunMunro George, 18, who was arrested at the same time and charged with obstructing Corporal 632 Morris, acting in due execution of his duty and had in his possession an offensive weapon, to wit a zapper.
During the June 2017 trial, Magistrate Bertie Pompey decided to recuse himself, upholding an application by defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste after Pompey made certain comments during the trial.
The charges were thrown out when they came up for hearing before Burnett at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.