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The accused, Granville De Freitas. (IWN file photo)
The accused, Granville De Freitas. (IWN file photo)
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The former police officer charged with possession of 62.5 lbs of beef, reasonably suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained will have to defend himself against the charge.

Granville De Freitas was put on his defence on Thursday at the Colonarie Magistrate’s Court—sitting at Georgetown—as Magistrate Rickie Burnett overruled a no-case submission he had made during the last sitting in late September.

However, the accused man asked for an adjournment so that he could retain legal counsel, the second such request he has been granted by the court since the trial began.

In making his ruling on the no-case submission, Burnett noted that De Freitas has pointed to what he (De Freitas) said were flaws in the prosecution’s case and had asked that the magistrate rule that the Crown had not presented a case for him to answer.

But Burnett said that he has found that the accused man does have a case to answer.

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After the magistrate handed down his ruling, De Freitas told the court that he had intended to call some witnesses but something transpired on social media regarding the case and the witnesses had declined.

He said that the case was not political but the manner in which the case was “published” on social media made it appear that way, and as a result, two persons who were to testify on his behalf had decided not to.

The accused man had suggested to the court that he would not enter a defence in the case, but when the question was put to him, he told the magistrate that he would give evidence.

He told the court that he had four other witnesses but they were not present in court.

The matter was stood down for a while for De Freitas to determine whether he wanted to give his evidence then and there.

When the matter was recalled later on Thursday, the accused man told the court that he had spoken to Ronald Marks about becoming his counsel in the matter.

Marks was present in court earlier on Thursday in relation to another matter, but later left.

Before Marks left, the magistrate had inquired of him whether he was De Freitas’ lawyer in the matter and he had said no.

The magistrate pointed out to De Freitas that Marks is an experienced lawyer who knows what he must do if he would be representing someone.

But De Freitas told the court that he had spoken to Marks while the matter was stood down and the lawyer had told him to come to his chambers.

The magistrate told De Freitas that while he believes that everyone must be given a fair chance to defend themselves, he had ample time to retain counsel.

He, therefore, adjourned the matter to Nov. 16.

The magistrate noted to De Freitas that this is the second time the matter is being adjourned to allow him to retain counsel

He further pointed out that he suspects that a defence counsel coming into a trial so late in the proceedings would require a transcript of the proceedings and told De Freitas that he had 48 hours to make such an application to the court.

De Freitas is alleged to have had the meat in his possession on July 4, 2017 at North Union, when police conducted a search of a minivan in which he was travelling.

De Freitas, a Chester Cottage resident, 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.

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.

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 arrest by 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 Colonarie Magistrate’s Court at Georgetown.