The trial of a man accused of disrupting the Serious Offences Court on Jan. 29 continues next Tuesday, when the court is expected to hear the evidence of two persons testifying on his behalf, including his mother.
During next Tuesday’s proceedings at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, Dennis Richardson is expected to call two witnesses.
He is charged that on Jan. 29, 2018, at Paul’s Avenue, within the precincts of the Serious Offences Court, where juridical proceedings were held, he showed disrespect in speech, to wit, ‘Next time, me go spit in she f***ing face or take a f***ing chair and pelt it at she’ in reference to chief magistrate Rechanne Browne, before whom such proceedings were held.
On Tuesday, the court heard the testimony of the chief magistrate, who said that, on the date in question, she was presiding over a matter in which Richardson was the defendant.
Richardson and the prosecutor, Adolphus Delplesche, engaged in “an exchange of dialogue” as they were not on the same wavelength on certain issues, and this quickly escalated, Browne told the court.
She said Richardson was very aggressive and loud and the prosecutor countered with the same forcefulness.
The prosecutor then asked that Richardson be removed from the courtroom.
Browne said that the police officers came to deal with his removal.
She said the defendant was “quite agitated” and spoke of not getting justice in the court system and being fed up of the process.
“He was twisting away from the police officer, not really being compliant,” she said, adding that shortly thereafter Richardson was no longer in earshot, presumably as he was being escorted to the holding cell.
Richardson was quite aggressive in his display in the court and used indecent language “in between”, the chief magistrate said, adding that it has become somewhat the norm for Richardson to say, “he can’t get justice in this effing court”.
She said that later that morning she learnt what Richardson allegedly said to the police officers regarding certain threats and she became quite concerned.
“I am a praying person, but nevertheless, we are human and I got a little worried, so much that I ensured that the necessary security measures were reinforced or topped up. Additional things were done to make ensure there was a sufficiency of security.”
During cross examination by Richardson, who was not represented, Browne said that the proceedings had stopped to facilitate his removal from the court.
Asked if she could tell the court what caused the exchange between him and the court, Browne said she could not recall the nitty-gritty.
She, however, said Richardson had complained about the prosecutor and bail.
“You kept harping, for want of a better word, on this issue of bail,” she said, adding that the prosecutor was not on the same wavelength as the defendant, and he became very vocal.
The chief magistrate said she does not recall the defendant asking her to recuse herself from hearing the matter on the same day or before.
Richardson told the chief magistrate that he repeatedly asked her on that day and before to recuse herself from the matter because he had been charged with an offence in which she is the virtual complainant.
Browne said that it was not every time that he appeared before her that issue arose.
“In fact, you even made it known that I would have dealt with a matter with you already and I would have found you not guilty even for that matter… You yourself highlighted that…
“…To be fair, you did mention on an occasion that you would have liked that to happen. I don’t recall if it’s December,” the magistrate said, but added that on the January date, bail was the issue.
She said she did not hear him issue any threat in the courtroom.
The chief magistrate said that Richardson’s behaviour in itself was disrespectful to the conduct of the court.
But Richardson said that if that were the case, he is liable to face a contempt of court charge.
The magistrate, however, told him that she does not charge people and it is in the purview of the police to act.
“I can’t arrest people,” she said.
The next witness in the case, Police Constable Othneil Prescott, told the court that on the date in question, he was attached to the chief magistrate as a member of her security detail.
He said that he was downstairs the building at the steps to the Serious Offences Court, where he met Sergeant Chandler, who was guarding some exhibits.
Prescott told the court that he knows the defendant very well and while there, he saw that Constable 430 John was escorting Richardson to the holding cell, located on the ground floor of the building.
He said that the defendant was behaving aggressively and was complaining to his family who were outside the building about a matter in the Serious Offences Court.
“He was saying that the chief magistrate is unfair; he don’t want her to hear his matter. He also continued by saying the next time he go in front of her he would spit in her f***ing face or pelt a chair at her.”
Prescott said that Chandler told the defendant to refrain from making such statement.
“The defendant ignored him and said, ‘Officer, alyo go ha’ fuh kill me.”
Prescott said that Israel Bruce, a lawyer, who was in the area said that the defendant had all right to express himself.
The witness said that after Bruce’s comment, the defendant began to began to behave more aggressively and repeated his threats to spit in the chief magistrate’s face or throw a chair at her.
In his evidence, Bruce said he was not present when the defendant allegedly said the words complained of. He said that if he were, he would have reprimanded the accused.
Prescott said that Sergeant Chandler identified himself to Richardson and informed him that he was going to report against him for making threats to the chief magistrate.
The witness said he then went to the chief magistrate and informed him of what Richardson had said.
Prescott told the court that no one else said anything to the defendant apart from his family members, who told him to behave himself.
During cross examination, Richardson put it to Prescott that he (Richardson) had, in fact, used Trinidad and Jamaica as a reference and said that persons in those countries would be inclined to act as the prosecution claimed he had threatened to.
In his testimony, Constable 430 Orthwell John who escorted Richardson from the court, said that Richardson had been called to the dock and the chief magistrate told him that he was being further remanded in custody.
When the chief magistrate told Richardson to stand down, he became annoyed and told the chief magistrate, “you on stupidness” and “if is one ah yuh family, yuh woulda let them go”, John told the court.
John said he was told to escort Richardson downstairs so he handcuffed the defendant and was assisted by other plainclothes officers in placing him in the holding cell.
While in the corridor, Richardson said, “OB, I never disrespect you” and he calmed down, John told the court.
He told the court that he met Chandler and Prescott on the ground floor of the building, near the holding cell, but had gone back to the courtroom immediately after placing Richardson in the cell.
During cross examination, John told the court that while going downstairs, Richardson was talking about what he would do when he is released from prison, but did not say exactly what he would do.
John said that after placing Richardson in the cell, he did not hear Richardson making any noise.
When the prosecutor redirected, John said that Richardson was not speaking loudly while going down the stairs.
He, however, said that in the court, Richardson had thrown himself back against the chair when he sat after being ordered to step down from the dock, and was repeating his statement that the magistrate was on stupidness and would have released him if they were related.
John said that Richardson was speaking loudly in the court, hence the decision to have him removed.
The court also heard the testimony of detective Corporal Winston Maloney, who investigated the report and charged Richardson, on Feb. 13, 2018, with disrupting judicial proceedings.
He said that Richardson gave no statement but said that he would explain himself in court.
Richardson, in his defence, said that on Jan. 29, he was taken from prison to the Serious Offences Court, where he had a hearing.
He said he had had an incident in the court because he kept asking the chief magistrate to recuse herself because there was a matter pending in which she was the virtual complainant.
He said that on Jan. 29 the chief magistrate again refused to recuse herself, saying she had since found Richardson not guilty on another matter.
Richardson told the court he kept telling the chief magistrate that he did not want her to hear the matter.
The prosecutor then said that he was ready to proceed with the other court matters that day and that he (Richardson) doesn’t run the court, Richardson said.
“So I tell him I don’t wah run the court, I want justice because I don’t see justice here” because he was charged for the chief magistrate and she still wanted to preside over his matter.
He said he wrote to the High Court, which instructed the chief justice to recuse herself from his matters.
Richardson said that when he was downstairs the court building, he was speaking to his relatives. He admitted that he was speaking loudly but denied saying that he would spit in the chief magistrate’s face or throw a chair at her.
He said he was saying that in Trinidad and Jamaica those things would not happen.
The prosecution asked him why he mentioned those countries.
Richardson said he mentioned those places because the pace is faster and such a development would create an uproar “or some kind of problem because is rebellious people yuh dealing with”.
“Oh? Is rebellious people, so they woulda do something different?” the prosecutor contended.
“They does fight for their rights,” Richardson said.
“So you mention countries with the highest crime rate while mentioning things would have been different. The highest murder rate,” the prosecutor stated.
Richardson maintained that he only mentioned those countries as a reference.
Bruce, who was neither a witness for the prosecution nor the defence also testified in the matter, after the magistrate called him as a witness.