Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, on Wednesday, referred to “the difficulty with these things” when accused persons appearing before him only mention injuries after being asked.
His comments came during the arraignment of Faraz Prescott, 40, of Paul’s Avenue, who was one the three men that survived Saturday night’s shooting in Paul’s Avenue, which claimed one life.
A bandaged Prescott, who had been shot in the hand and foot by unknown assailants, was brought before the magistrate on unrelated charges, which the Prosecutor said were pending before the shooting.
Prescott only told the court that he was shot when the magistrate asked.
“He comes and he has plasters all over him and he comes and he says nothing. I have to ask,” the magistrate said.
The magistrate granted Prescott bail in his own recognisance, although the prosecutor, Police Constable Corlene Samuel, who had not objected to bail, had asked for sufficient surety.
Prescott told the court that he has no one to sign his bail bond.
Towards the end of the arraignment, the magistrate noted that a lawyer had recently made comments on a matter that came before the court.
Burnett, however, said that a defendant “comes to the court, says nothing, the court is to do something, and when the court does something, certain things happen and the matter has to come back before the court”.
The magistrate did not mention lawyer Jomo Thomas by name.
However, in his weekly column in The Vincentian newspaper recently, Thomas, who is also Speaker of the House of Assembly, touched on the court’s failure to inquire about the physical conditions of the men who were charged in connection with the Sept. 19 robbery of Resha Twana Browne-Caesar, wife of Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar.
Thomas was speaking in the context of some persons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines apparently being willing to give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety amidst a spate of robberies and other crimes across the country.
“What is even more frightening, in this regard, is that accused persons show up in court with puffy faces, bloodshot eyes, swollen and broken limbs, and the Magistrates do not even bat an eye. There is no legal explanation for the failure of a judicial officer to forcefully inquire why an accused person is swollen and bloodied. Only callous disregard for a fellow human being explains this reality. And it happens far too frequently in our courts. If there is one place an accused person should feel safe, is in the courts. Instead, we frequently hear police, magistrates and judges shout at and insult accused persons and prisoners.”