Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett. (iWN file photo)

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.
He wrote:

“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.”

4 replies on “Magistrate cites ‘difficulty’ of accused not mentioning injuries”

  1. Mr Bernett is a pleasant human but the one them have up serious of court which is a police and prosecutor court need to flee

  2. As much as I think Mr. Burnett is a very good judge, I think he is wrong this time. If a defendant just blurts things out in court it is considered disrespect. The judge is in charge of the proceedings, not the defendant.

    Jomo Thomas is right! What Jomo Thomas is quoted as saying above should be noted. What kind of a legal system do we have when it ignores physical injury of the defendants? What happens if many of these people are found innocent? What if many of these defendants are innocent but sustain permanent injury inflicted by our very brutal and cowardly SVG Police?
    Being a developing country should only refer to our shortcoming resulting from a lack of funds. Instead it is because of our lack of intelligence, lack of knowing the difference between what is right or wrong.
    Maybe it should be a standard part of our court procedure to ask the defendant if they have sustained any injuries, and how they got them.
    As I understand it, this is the first time I have noticed a good judge in SVG being wrong.

  3. Rawlston Pompey says:

    PROMPTING CHANGE: SO SHALL IT BE – ATTY JOMO THOMO

    Though the language used appears provocatively strong, ‘…Only callous disregard for
    a fellow human being explains this reality,’ If that is the way points have to be made,
    then ‘…So Shall It Be.’ Everyone shall be ‘…treated equal before the law.’

    The Editor Kenton Chance was credited for publishing a picture of five men, including
    an accused Constable who alleged that he was dished out a ‘…serious beating by the Commissioner.’ [ October 9, 2018].

    On the faces of two of his co-accused, there were ‘…visible marks of violence,’ Though
    the matter of an accused physical appearance may not necessarily be under Magisterial consideration, it places neither the case for the prosecution, nor the defence in jeopardy,
    if an adjudicator inquires into their injuries.

    Peculiarly or retaliatory, two days later the suspended Constable was slapped with a
    ‘…Murder charge’ [IWN: October 11, 2018].

    Inquiries by adjudicators would better positioned them to address religious ‘…objections to
    bail for petty offences,’ when the police would have already inflicted ‘…extrajudicial
    punishment’ on defendants standing before the Court with ‘…patches and injuries,’ including
    those they may have sustained from assailants.

    Attorney Jomo Thomas, might simply be endeavoring to prompt change of an apparent ‘…magisterial mindset.’

  4. Every magistrate and every judge should enquire when they see what could be batter injuries on the faces and the person of a prisoner or accused brought before them. Many such people are beaten by the police to make them admit to crimes, some of which they did not carry out. Then those beaten are frightened to report themselves in fear of being beaten again for reporting those who assaulted them.

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