Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett is an acting master in the High Court. (iWN file photo)

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, on Tuesday, took a firm line with the prosecution as they applied for what would have been the 10th adjournment in a matter.

The magistrate made it clear that he wanted to dispose of, before the end of the year, the case that had been in the system since November 2017.

The magistrate’s hard line came in the case in which Maxwell Patterson is charged with wounding Rosmond Browne and Glenroy Glasgow, a matter that has been before the court since November 2017.

When the matter was called at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, for a second consecutive week, the prosecution applied for what would have been the 10th adjournment in the matter.

The reason, again, was because the arresting officer, Corporal 45 Forde, was on “special duty” in the Grenadines, prosecutor Sergeant Renwick Cato told the court.

However, Burnett noted that the accused and virtual complainants were before him and wanted the matter to be disposed of.

He said that the last time the matter was called, he was also given “the Corporal Forde story”.

“It is difficult sometimes to properly reconcile all the issues,” the magistrate said.

He further pointed out that even if the trial were to commence that day, it would not be possible to complete it because of the absence of the investigating officer.

Asked when the matters should be adjourned to, Cato said it is at the court’s convenience.

Burnett, however, said he has to take vacation as well, adding that unless something changes this year, when he goes on vacation, he is not likely to be replaced.

“That has never happened before so it appears as though when I go off in January this court downstairs might be closed for a while… I don’t know because I am not in charge of the management of the magistracy but I am only going based on what transpired in the past.”

The magistrate said that he is saying that to tell the parties that with any adjournment, the matter is likely to be heard in February 2019.

The magistrate then told the parties that the matter has to be adjourned to February 2019.

“It is painful to have to tell parties that have matters pending in the system since November of 2017 that their matters are adjourned to the 11th of February 2019,” the magistrate said.

Cato further noted that the matters are summary offences.

“Granted they were adjourned for various reasons,’ the magistrate said, adding that he wished the matter could have been concluded this year.

The magistrate then asked that someone find out when Corporal Forde would be available, saying that he does not want to adjourn the trial to February.

“I am not feeling comfortable with this one at all,” he said and stood the matter down while the inquiry was made.

When the matter was recalled, Cato told the court that he understands that Forde’s assignment will see him remaining in the Grenadines until next April.

“So are you telling me that he is spending his Christmas in the Grenadines?”

“Your honour, more than likely,” Cato said, adding that Forde is from the Grenadines.

“Oh, that come like home to him,” Burnett commented.

He further inquired about what the prosecution was expecting from the court in all the matters that Forde has before the court.

“You will certainly appreciate that that is not acceptable to this court.”

Cato began to say that as it related to the extant matter he would “speak with–”.

“Let me talk first,” Burnett interrupted him.

“Tell the authorities that this court is going to dispose this matter before the end of 2018, alright,” the magistrate said.

He added that while there will not be trial after Dec. 20, he has to make himself available to the court.

“I have to come to work. So if this matter has to be fixed anytime in this year, the court has to make itself available anytime to the citizens. So tell Mr. Commissioner or Deputy that there is this matter that I want disposed of before the end of the year; whether it is before Christmas or after Christmas, so be it.”

Cato said that he would speak to the commissioner or deputy.

“Well, speak to them now. There is a phone inside. It’s in an office that I occupy but it belongs to the people. It’s not my private phone,” Burnett told the prosecutor.

He said he would stand the matter down while the prosecutor contacts the police high command.

After about eight minutes, Cato told the court that he had spoken to the deputy commissioner of police who had informed him that the prosecution should just let him know when Forde is needed in court.

Burnett said the deputy police chief had probably read his mind, adding that he was going to start the matter that day and adjourn it to a later date in December when he expects Forde to appear before the court.

The trail began Tuesday and is scheudled to resume on Monday.

4 replies on “Magistrate takes firm line with prosecution in delayed trial”

  1. The “want of prosecution” saga continues.

    The entire prosecution leaves a lot to be desired.

    It’s unfortunate that these defendants did not have Counsel or I am sure, this case would have gone in a particular way today.

    Kudos to the Senior Magistrate for balancing justice and fairness.

  2. Rawlston Pompey says:

    What is PRIORITY – SPECIAL DUTY OR COURT DUTY

    Ten adjournment in a year? A clear case of inordinate delay.
    .
    Even though the charges were dismissed, they can be re-filed,

    Seemed the Police got their ‘…Priorities’ all mixed-up.

    The prosecution’s hands are ‘…never tied,’ and so too are those of Magistrates.

    Not only that ‘,..Court Duties’ shall take priority over all other police duties, but also in keeping with the maxim ‘…Justice delayed is justice denied.’

    While it appeared that the Senior Magistrate acted rationally, in other jurisdictions, a really hard-lined position would have been ‘…Dismissed For Want of Prosecution.’. Time for the Magistracy to get tough.

  3. This situatiin must have definitely frustrated the learned magistrate. Situations like those are what I may deem as highly ridiculous.

    What sort of special duties/assignment that the investigating officer had been performing so important that he couldn’t even break for a day or two to just deliver his evidence which normally would’ve taken only minutes?

    These short-comings on the prosecution’s part are the exact reasons why so many high profile cases get either struck out or withdrawn and victims/virtual complainants end up getting no justice from court system.

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