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Returning Officer for Central Leeward in the 2015 election, Winston Gaymes did not testify at the trial. (iWN file photo)
Returning Officer for Central Leeward in the 2015 election, Winston Gaymes did not testify at the trial. (iWN file photo)
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His name featured frequently during the seven days of hearing of oral evidence in the election petitions trial that ended on Tuesday. 

But Winston Gaymes, who was the returning officer in Central Leeward in the 2015 general election, made no appearance in person at the trial.

Gaymes has been living overseas for some time and it has been reported elsewhere that he would have testified via Skype.

However, the respondents wrapped up their case on Tuesday without calling Gaymes to give evidence. 

A number of presiding officers who testified on behalf of the government at the trial said that he had provided training for them in the lead up to the Dec. 9, 2015 vote.

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Gaymes also featured in a video that lawyer Maia Eustace, who testified for the petitioner, made during the count at a polling station in Central Leeward on election night.

Last Thursday, as she was being crossed examined by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, Eustace maintained that when she protested Gaymes’ counting of ballots that did not have the official stamp or initial of the presiding officer, he responded, “I did it for both”, and not “You did not oppose”, as Astaphan had claimed.

Wallace Christopher, a presiding officer in Central Leeward, who testified on behalf of the respondents, also admitted during the trial that he counted ballots that did not have his official mark or initials.

Gaymes had also attracted attention after a closed-door meeting he and then Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb held at the Electoral Office in Kingstown on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2015. 

Findlay-Scrubb later issued a statement saying that she had gone to her office on Dec. 12, 2015 to complete some outstanding administrative work.

She said that while there, she listened to an NDP press conference in which then party president and opposition leader Arnhim Eustace spoke of alleged irregularities in the Central Leeward constituency.

“I, therefore, contacted the Returning Officer and the Election Clerk, and requested an urgent meeting to review the issues raised at the NDP Press Conference,” she said in a release.

Findlay-Scrubb said she decided that it was best for the meeting to take place the following day, Sunday, Dec. 13, “in a quiet, uninterrupted setting. Additionally, I needed to be clear on the way forward as the office continued its post-election duties.”

She said the meeting lasted from around 1:30 to 3:10 p.m.

The meeting had triggered some demonstration by NDP supporters at a time when their leader had promised the legal action, which led to the petitions.

Gaymes, in a sworn affidavit, said that he counted ballots that did not have the official mark or initials of the presiding officer — contrary to law.

However, then Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, refused to grant three Central Leeward residents a fiat to prosecute the electoral officials.

Williams, responding to an application that lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste made on behalf of her clients, Layou residents — Maxine Berkley, Vesta Hanson and Elgevia Parsons — said that if Gaymes broke the law, as her clients are alleging, he is not the only one.

“Indeed, if, as alleged, invalid votes were counted at the final count, culpability may not begin and end with Mr Gaymes solely, but include the presiding officer and all those persons who were “duly authorised to perform any function relating to … the proceedings on polling day or the counting of votes, Williams said in an Oct. 28, 2016 response to Bacchus-Baptiste. 

But Bacchus-Baptiste, in her Dec. 21, 2016 response to Williams, said that whoever is culpable should be prosecuted.

“If you determine that the presiding officer and other officers are also culpable why not charge them also? The law is clear that the questionable ballots are void. The law says they are not to be counted,” she said.

A ruling in the case is slated for March 21.

4 replies on “PETITIONS TRIAL: No Gaymes at petitions hearing”

  1. Gaymes’ absence, makes me think that Brer Gaymes is running away from testifying because he wants to withhold information relevant to the case. A cover-up. Or he is living illegally in the US and doesn’t want to come back to SVG.

  2. IWN this website new format is more complicated ….if thats the correct word ….than the last format which is more simpler to navigate , which is very important when choosing a web page layout ,

  3. You cannot force a man to return from abroad on a simple local subpoena. Someone may be paying him to stay away.

    This whole matter is mind blowing, David you on several occasions stated that the NDP case was a fabrication. I hope you now are more open minded about what has been revealed.

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