Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, on Tuesday, called lawyer Israel Bruce to testify in a trial in which he was not listed as a witness for either the prosecution or defence.
The trial was that of Dennis Richardson of Glen, who is charged with disrupting the Serious Offences Court.
Richardson is charged that on Jan. 29, 2018, at Paul’s Avenue, within the precincts of the Serious Offences Court, where juridical proceedings were being 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.
In his evidence-in-chief, Police Constable Othniel Prescott, who was a member of the chief magistrate’s security detail on Jan. 29, said that Bruce was present when Richardson uttered the words outside the court building.
Prescott said that Bruce had told Richardson that he has all right to express himself.
On Tuesday, Bruce came to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, where the trial was taking place, and sat at the bar table.
However, the magistrate informed him that his name had been mentioned in the case and that he intended to call him as a witness.
In keeping with standard procedure, Bruce was, therefore, asked to vacate the courtroom.
When Bruce’s turn came to testify, after he took the oath, the magistrate told him that he had called him to testify because his name came up as someone who was around and had made certain statements.
“Consequently, in the interest of justice, I have determined that you should be called and Mr. Richardson has no objections.”
In his evidence, Bruce said he could not recall precisely the date or time of “the transaction” but said he was “almost sure” that it occurred in the morning.
He said he was leaving the Serious Offences Court, where he had a matter and when he got on or about the landing of the staircase he heard what appeared to be a commotion.
He said he realised that the commotion was “transacting” at the holding area (cell) – located on the ground floor of the two-storey building.
At the time, Richardson was among others in the holding area and was very vocal, Bruce said, adding that police officers were “engaging the defendant”.
Bruce said he heard the defendant say, “I don’t want she to do my case because them done charge me and say that me threaten she.”
The lawyer said he formed the conclusion that the engagement of the police officers and Richardson “was such that it would not abate what was happening.
“I voluntarily drew the attention of the defendant, I asked him to calm himself down. I then indicated to the officers who were engaging the defendant that what the defendant was saying made sense.”
Bruce said that, by that, he meant that Richardson’s “proclamation” that he did not want the chief magistrate to hear his matter because he was charged with threatening her made sense.
The lawyer said that was the extent of his engagement in the matter.
“I, having spoken to the defendant, he calmed himself and I went away from the scene. I don’t know what happened after and I cannot account as to what happened before.”
In response to a question from the prosecutor, Police Constable Corlene Samuel, Bruce said that Richardson used some expletives during the engagement.
He said he knows that he is not allowed to give an opinion from the dock, but added, “It appears that one of the police officers might have, like, roughed him [up]in the area and he was saying that he was not going to take any.”
Bruce, however, said that Richardson was not speaking softly.
“He was clearly annoyed.”
Bruce told the magistrate that he was not present when the words complained of were mentioned, if they were used at all.
“I was not present and if I was present, I would have indicated to the defendant that it would have been improper and impolite of him to have uttered such words.”
The trial continues next Tuesday, when Richardson, who testified on Tuesday, is expected to call two witnesses.