A female lawyer has accused one of her male colleagues of assaulting her during a brawl at a rum shop on Saturday that initially involved the female lawyer’s husband and her alleged assailant.
Police said on Tuesday that they are investigating “the circumstances which led to the assault” of Ronnia Durham-Balcombe, 31, a lawyer of Prospect.
“According to reports, Ronnia Durham-Balcombe was assaulted by Ronald “Ronnie” Marks, [a] 48 year old lawyer of Prospect, to wit, ‘by boxing her on the right side of her face’, causing actual bodily harm,” police said in their regular crime bulletin.
“The incident reportedly occurred at Prospect on Saturday, about 4:30 p.m.
But Mr. Marks, in an interview with iWitness News on Monday, denied striking Durham-Balcombe, saying that he cannot make a fist as he has broken fingers that need at least four weeks more of therapy if he is to be able to close his hand.
Part of the brawl in which Marks and Durham-Balcombe were involved were captured in two videos and circulated via social media. (Scroll for video)
In one of the videos, Marks’ sister, Patricia Marks-Minors, also a lawyer, is heard swearing at Durham-Balcombe before the video ends suddenly, as if the recording device fell from Durham-Balcombe hands.
Durham-Balcombe told iWitness News that Marks-Minors knocked the device out of her hand and stomped on it when it fell to the ground.
Durham-Balcombe said she was at home waiting for her husband, Cameron “Dinky” Balcombe, a businessman and former politician, to return.
Earlier, she had received a call from her husband saying that Marks had drawn a gun at him and had made defamatory and threatening comments about him, Durham-Balcombe told iWitness News.
“I was more concerned that he had pulled a gun at my husband.”
Before receiving the call about the gun threat, Durham-Balcombe said she had received a call from her husband saying that he had had some vehicle problems in the Prospect area and would be delayed.
“When I got around to the location — not too far from where I am living, I observed Mr. Ronnie Marks hurling insults at my husband, basically, saying what is he doing here, how NDP [New Democratic Party] people come down and contaminate the area. This is his place and making further comments,” Durham-Balcombe said of Marks, a former senator for the ruling Unity Labour Party.
She said she got out of the vehicle and her husband was asking Marks what was going on with him and why he had pulled the gun at him.
“I got out o the vehicle and I stood in front of it. I went to my husband first and I asked him what was going on and he said this guy just came and pulled gun at him and slapped him and [and making allegation about my husband’s sexual history] at university in Soho. Making defamatory comments, basically.”
Durham-Balcombe said that the police at Calliaqua were summoned and when they arrived, they spoke to her husband and went inside the shop to speak to Marks “who had gone inside to sit at the bar after the persons in the area had dragged him inside and told him to behave himself, because he kept motioning to put his hand in his pocket to take out the gun — a gun which he had in his possession and I was there when he did that.
“And he had also attempted to slap my husband but I had grabbed his hand and had told him no, that was not going to happen here because my husband wasn’t even studying him. He was speaking to other people, as a crowd had started to gather and he was distracted.”
She said one of the officers went into the shop and brought Marks outside to speak to him, away from the noise and the crowd.
“As soon as Mr. Marks exited the doors, he again started to attack my husband verbally, telling him — all the statements I mentioned earlier, he repeated them in the presence of the police.”
Durham-Balcombe said the police asked Marks why he had pulled his gun at Balcombe.
“Mr. Marks’ response was my husband approached him with his hand in the air. So the officer asked him if he approached with his hands up in the air why did he pull the gun.
“Mr. Marks became very irate and he began to say a police officer like you who can’t get promotion unless I say so wants to give me licks for Mr. Balcombe,” Durham-Balcombe said.
In one of the videos, Marks is heard telling the police office that the officer cannot get a promotion unless Marks says so.
She said Marks got confrontational and people restrained him
Durham-Balcombe said that a few minutes later, Marks’ sister, Marks-Minor arrived.
“And I overheard her telling him, don’t bother with these people, they are nobody, they are nothing, they are nobody. And then Mr. Marks repeated out loud, ‘Yes, they are nobody.’ And then he looked in my direction and said, ‘You stinking mother****.”
She said she then asked Marks if he was speaking to her and he said yes, and asked them what they were doing in Prospect and they don’t belong there.
“He said, you NDP people come down here and contaminate the area. That is what he was saying. And I am not making any political vibe about it. But that is exactly what was said.”
Marks, however, has told iWitness News that while he and Balcombe said unpleasant things to each other, he never made any comments about people’s political persuasion.
Durham-Balcombe said that Marks confirmed that he was, in fact, swearing at her.
She said she then decided to use her cell phone to record what was happening.
“Because I am a barrister in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I would not stand for this slanderous, disrespectful conduct from a fellow member of the Bar. And much more, because the police could not get him under control, I said this deserves recording and he kept advancing to my husband. I then got my phone and I started a recording.”
She said that the recording ended when Marks-Minors knocked the phone out of her hand and swore at her.
“She hit me on my hand and knocked the phone clear out of my hand and then stomped on my phone. So when I bent down and tried to get my phone, she then grabbed me by my neck. So I got into a position where I had to defend myself.
“So I got up and both of us got into a short tussle, because, by then, Ronnie Marks ran in on me and whatever crowd and her (Marks-Minors) husband (Chad Minors) ran in and, at the same time, my husband was trying to come to my defence. But, he did not get there in time…
“While Patricia and I had our short tussle, where I was trying to defend myself, Mr. Marks then came in and he was, again, going towards my husband, because husband was coming in to try and defend me and Mr. Marks was coming in too.
“When he realised that the crowd was holding back my husband and my husband couldn’t get at me, Mr. Marks then looked at me, bit his lip and clenched his fist and hit me one box on the right side of my face…
“I know for a fact because I saw him with my own eyes before his fist connected with my face that Ronnie Marks hit me there.”
Durham-Balcombe told iWitness News that the police who were present when the alleged assault occurred told her to go to the Calliaqua Police Station to lodge a report.
She said she went immediately, made a report and got my medical injury report form and returned it to the station, “because I am taking this matter quite seriously”.
Meanwhile, Marks told iWitness News on Monday that he had pulled his gun at Mr. Balcombe after Balcombe and other man rushed him inside the shop.
He, however, denied assaulting Durham-Balcombe.
“I have a broken finger. My finger can’t even close in. I have to do about four more weeks of therapy before my finger can squeeze in.”
Marks said that on the contrary, Durham-Balcombe assaulted his sister.
“… she went and grabbed on to my sister’s hair.”
He suggested that the videos being circulated are not the entire video that Durham-Balcombe recorded.
“Pat walked off. She grabbed Pat from behind on her hair. All I did just rolled in and put myself between the two of them and separated them. The police were there and the police came and they did their work,” Marks said.
He said he was assaulted during the fracas and has told the police this and was scheduled to lodge a formal report on Tuesday.
Marks-Minors is yet to respond to a telephone call to the chambers she and Marks share, denying herself an opportunity to comment ahead of a story being published.