Two friends appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Monday, one charged with assaulting the other, reportedly over a request for money to pay into “Bunpan”.
Coincidentally, the matter was being heard by Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, who is president of the Marriaqua Friendly Society, a burial society that shares the nickname of its late founder, Nathaniel Bunpan” Guy.
Dean Baptiste was charged that on Saturday, Nov. 24, at Lower Questelles, he assaulted Renard Davis of the same address, occasioning actual bodily harm.
Baptiste pleaded guilty to the charge but that plea was vacated after he challenged the facts presented by the prosecution.
According to the facts presented by the prosecution, both Baptiste and Davis are friends.
Sometime before Saturday’s incident, Baptiste suffered an injury that caused him to lose the lower part of his right arm.
Since then, Davis has been helping him daily with food and other things.
About 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, both men were drinking together when Baptiste asked Davis about money to pay his Bunpan book.
Baptiste told Davis that he should pay his book when he get his Public Assistance (welfare) payout and not use it to buy rum.
An argument ensued and Baptiste left and returned with a stick, and used it to strike Davis, resulting in a number of injuries.
The matter was reported to the police and Baptiste was charged.
Asked if he accepted the facts as presented by the prosecution, Baptiste told the court that he did not beat Davis with a stick.
He said that Davis attacked him with a bottle and he pushed Davis and ran. Davis fell as a result of being pushed.
Baptiste further told the court Davis tried to run after him but because he (Davis) was drunk, he fell again and injured himself in the process.
“All right. Prosecutor, he is inviting me to have a trial in this matter, Burnett said.
Prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel did not object to bail, which was initially granted in the sum of EC$1,000.
However, Baptiste told the court that he did not have anyone to bail him, and Burnett granted the man bail in his own recognizance, ordering him to return to court on Jan. 22, 2019.
As the men were about to leave the court, Burnett, said, “Make sure you pay your Bunpan book.”
The comments by the smiling magistrate triggered some muffled giggling in the courtroom.
“I am not a secret. I am the president of Bunpan also,” Burnett said.