Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, on Tuesday, took a hard line with a drug accused with a history of other crimes who impugned the character of a narcotics officer.
In mitigation at the Serious Offences Court, Winfield “Winterfresh” Sam said that Corporal 615 Williams, who was among a team of officers that intercepted him with the drug, is his “friend”.
He said the officer had “wilfully” instructed her juniors to pursue him even after he had signalled to her that he had marijuana in his possession.
Sam, whose crimes have included burglary, possession of stolen goods, and drug possession made the comments as he mitigated on his behalf after pleading guilty to possession of 1,135 grammes of cannabis in Kingstown on Feb. 8, 2019.
He had run away from the police officer after they stopped him and had tossed away a bag that he had been carrying. Police retrieved the bag and found the marijuana inside, but never caught Sam until Monday.
The accused man told the court that when the police, who were on mobile patrol, stopped him, he gave the corporal a sign to let her know that he had marijuana on him.
“She wilfully do it. She know that me is ah underprivileged, ne ain’t geh nothing,” said Sam.
The comments by the man, who is known for his theatrics in court, triggered some laughter.
In sentencing Sam, Browne let him know that she did not approve of the suggestions he had made about the officer’s character.
“The officer knows you because your history. Not because of friends. Yes, officers may have a gentle disposition on occasions. They talk to people like they are human beings and do their work professionally. But she is doing her work. You are not to give her no wink, as you are suggesting and ‘I have something on me.’”
Sam, who was recently released from prison on a drug possession charge, said that the corporal was leading the mobile patrol in Kingstown when their police vehicle stopped and tried to apprehend him.
He was able to escape the police by running through an alley after tossing a bag containing the drug into the pan of a vehicle.
He was arrested in Kingstown on Monday and pleaded guilty to the charge.
The magistrate told the man that the police officer has a job to do.
“You are bringing her character into disrepute. You cannot even think of that. If when you are arrested and she is kind and does her work professionally towards you, as others may not — from the suggestion I infer that — that is not to bring her and disrepute her — ‘Me ha ah police friend’ and make it to suggest that she does things improper,” the magistrate told Sam, who repeatedly apologised.
“We can’t have that. We cannot condone that suggestion… That is out of order. Don’t be suggesting that of her character at all. I don’t like that,” Browne further said.
She told him that any officer that he thinks is his friend has a job to do and if they know him, his reputation precedes him and he has to do differently for the officers to think differently of him.
“Because you are always going to be of concern to them when they see you…. They are doing their work. So you make sure you do your part and you do it straight. Otherwise, they will do their work every time they see you,” Browne said.
She fined him EC$3,000 for the drug, to be paid by May. 2 or face six months in prison.
What legal remedies are available to the winning party? Other than the declaration of new elections, or in addition to new elections, could the court grant a meaningful remedy such as a permanent injunction against PM Gonsalves and the ULP, enjoining them from contesting elections or participating in political activities in SVG?
In other words, could this court hand down such a radical verdict/remedy that would forever change the way politics and elections are conducted in SVG and perhaps the entire Caribbean? Additionally, the court could likely order that all salaries, perks, etc. enjoyed by ULP ministers and their enablers in government over the past 4 years be disgorged, meaning that they have to pay the money back to the treasury.
Such verdicts would turn on whether the remedies are available under SVG courts of law/equity, whether the plaintiffs prayed for the specific remedies in their briefs, or whether the court can act on its own to impose such remedies.
Since the cases are not being tried in a court of last resort such as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, or the Caribbean Court of Justice (CJC), any verdict of this court will be vigorously appealed. But would the time and cost of any appeal be worthwhile if the cases result in setting an earth-shattering precedent–actually providing a meaningful remedy for dastardly election acts that make a mockery of the democratic system?
Should the court find that the election was stolen and the remedy handed down is simply re-elections after 4 years of ULP control of the nation’s treasury, then former PM Mitchell is right–Ralph and the ULP have WON again!
Finally, to simply rely on the nonsense of “breadfruit mentality” to castigate the losers-the Vincentian people in this milieu, is to abdicate one’s duty to do justice to a very serious problem, that is, to provide serious and energetic analysis/debate to a most important problem of safeguarding the peoples’ democracy.
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