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Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett. (iWN file photo)
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett. (iWN file photo)
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Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, on Tuesday, opined that a woman  who claimed that a man used abusive language to her in Kingstown, pursue the matter in civil court.

The accused man, David Bennett, of Kingstown, was charged that on Dec. 27, 2017 in Kingstown, in a public place, to wit, Kingstown Vegetable Market, he made us of indecent language to Auxiliary Police Constable Norva Laurent, to wit, “woman, way the f*** wrong with all yo, way yo nah open the door”.

He was further charged that at the same date and place, he made use of insulting language to Laurent, to wit, “woman, way you don’t haul you whoring mother c***, yo ah whore about on the streets, way yo nah haul you mother whoring c***”.

Bennett pleaded not guilty to the charges and was due for trial on Tuesday.

But when the matter was called, Burnett, on reviewing the charges, told the prosecution that his position on those types of charges is known.

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The jurist noted his position, even as he observed that insulting and indecent language remain on the law books as criminal offences.

The prosecutor, Sergeant of Police Cornelius Tittle, said that while he knows the magistrate’s position, the words that Bennett allegedly used towards Laurent constitute “grave disrespect”.

The magistrate said that while that is true, there is a civil court for those matters.

He read the words upon which the complaint was premised, adding, “And we are going to sit down and try this as a criminal matter?”

The magistrate said he was not commenting on the case but was speaking to himself as if he were not in the room.

However, when the senior magistrate asked how many witnesses were slated to testify in the case, he was told that there were two — both of them police officers.

The magistrate then observed that the case would be the complainant’s word against the defendant’s.

The prosecutor confirmed that the investigating officer was not present when the offence was allegedly committed.

As the matter was about to begin, the magistrate asked the complainant if she knew the defendant.

She said she knows him in the market and knows that he is called “Southy” but doesn’t know his actual name.

The magistrate asked Laurent if she would be satisfied with an apology.

The woman, however, said that it was not the first time that the accused man has been insulting towards her, adding that she never acted on it before.

“But you see the kind of words he used and at the second moment in front of a whole congregation of people in the market. It was disturbing,” she said.

The magistrate then observed that the claimant could have filed a civil action against the man and claim EC$15,000 in the magistrate’s court or an even larger amount in the High Court.

He said that if the complainant wins the case, the most he would do is fine or bond the defendant.

This would do nothing to rectify injuries the woman might have suffered as a result of the defendant’s alleged crimes, the senior magistrate said.

“The point I am making to you is that you can get more appropriate remedy in another court than coming in the magistrate court in its criminal jurisdiction. Because what you really want is that you want your character to be re-established? Not true?” the magistrate said.

He suggested that the woman take a civil suit against the man, but noted that he was not preventing her from going ahead with the criminal matter.

At that point, Tittle told the court that he is minded to take a certain course of action, and withdrew the charges.

The magistrate asked him to advise the woman accordingly.

After a short adjournment unrelated to the case, the magistrate told the court that the decision he has made in the case was not to be interpreted as precedence for how he will treat similar matters.

He said he had advised the claimant to proceed civilly because she is a law enforcement agent.

15 replies on “Magistrate opines that abusive language complainant sue in civil court”

    1. You are quite right Pam, some Vincentian women, mainly ULP, do have dirty mouths. But some members of the dynasty have dirty mouths also, even C, ben-David has been known to have a dirty mouth and behave badly and ungentlemanly. Some say if you have never been cursed by DREGs you don’t know what cursing really is.

      But if there are laws against such behaviour it should be enforced even if its from the leaders, or from the ghosts in our society that hide behind stolen identities such as C.ben.

      People who behave so can and should be classed as rubbish people.

  1. This magistrate is very bias in his actions….. Although he is right with his explanation as far as jurisdiction and results

  2. The parties in a criminal case are the state and the defendant. The complainant is merely a witness. The state has the responsibility to keep the peace. The magistrate misconceived the offence as a personal matter by the complainant. The offence is one that was likely to cause a breach of the peace. The state has a legitimate interest in prosecuting these kinds of misdemeanors. The magistrate does not recognize his function as a justice of the peace. The nation was better off when that handsome Indian magistrate from Guyana, Chandapal was presiding. He was well respected by the people.

    1. Its much more than that Lostpet. This man is obviously raging whilst he is calling these names, perhaps even bordering losing self control. He may even be a physical danger and if he damages someone in the future this magistrate will be a contributory cause.

  3. Senior Magistrate Burnett said “insulting and indecent language remain on the law books as criminal offences” and this lady should take her case to the civil court. But for this lady to get this matter before a Civil Court as a private criminal matter will require her obtaining a Fiat from the DPP. At that stage he will either disallow the case or she will wait forever to get the Fiat and even longer to get the matter before a court, maybe 1 or 2 years. On the other hand if she was a member of the dynasty the accused may have instantly ended up in the mental home. Or if the dynasty took the civil criminal route they would have got a Fiat instantly and the case would be heard the very same week. So it would be a Fiat with Rolls Royce quality.

    So the accuser whilst waiting for a scrapyard type Fiat would have to face this man on a weekly basis in Kingstown, perhaps to suffer further and continuing abuse and humiliation, for maybe the next 2 years.

    As for the accuser getting compensation, from whom, I doubt the accused would have any money to pay anything. And for the lady to get an award she would have to prove that when the man called her names that caused her some financial loss or criminally damaged her name. As she is unknown I doubt she would get anything, not like Ralph Gonsalves getting hundreds of thousands without personally appearing in court even.

    If the accused’s action was a criminal act it should have been prosecuted as such by and with direction from the magistrate. The course he chose in this matter compounds the beliefs of wrong being handed down to Yugge Farrell. It certainly opens the door again on exactly what happened when Yugge went before the magistrates court, the difference in treatment is obvious.

    It’s all down to perception, and this matter has a nasty odour about it.

  4. A simple way of dealing with this case would have been to have bound the the man over to keep the peace. And to make an order for him not to talk or address the woman in the future. So as if he re-offends, bang, he is straight inside.

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