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Senior Magistrate, Rickie Burnett. (iWN file photo)
Senior Magistrate, Rickie Burnett. (iWN file photo)

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett has expressed his displeasure at a “classic case of playing the system” in a matter that came before his court.

Burnett made his feelings known last Friday at the Kingstown Magistrate in a case in which Andy Baptiste was to be sentenced for stealing EC$14,346 in mobile phone credit from Digicel (SVG) Ltd.

Baptiste, who was represented by counsel Roderick Jones, had, two days earlier, pleaded guilty to a charge that he committed the offence at Walvaroo between May 11, 2016 and May 13, 2017.

Crown Counsel Renee Simmons appeared for the prosecution.

When the matter was called, Jones asked that the charge be put to his client again.

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Baptiste then entered a not guilty plea.

Simmons said that the Crown had no objection to bail.

At this point, the senior magistrate said he wanted to comment on the matter.

“Now, this is what I do not like,” Burnett said.

He pointed out that the case entered the court system on Nov. 25, 2020, at which time, counsel Grant Connell was representing Baptiste.

The court set a trial date for June 2, 2021.

On that date, “there was no Mr. Connell; Mr. Jones made an appearance for the defendant,” Burnett pointed out.

The senior magistrate said that the prosecution was ready to proceed with the matter.

Further, a former employee of Digicel (SVG) Ltd. who, Burnett was advised, had come from overseas because of the case, was also present.

However, Jones asked for an adjournment, which the court denied.

The lawyer then asked for the charge to be read to the defendant, who pleaded guilty.

Also on June 2, Jones asked for sentencing to be done on that same day, but there was no current employee of Digicel present, so Baptiste was remanded in custody until Friday for sentencing.

“On today’s date, here we are and look what we are facing,” Burnett said, adding that he was sure that the former employee of Digicel had left the country.

“Why do we play the system like this? This is a clear case of playing the system. I am not going to pretend. We have to do better than this … This is a classic case of playing the system. And having regard for how this matter is playing out in front of me, I do not appreciate this.”

Burnett said that assuming that the former employee of Digicel who came to SVG because of the case had left the country, the question arose of who would pay for another trip to St. Vincent to testify in the case.

Burnett said that if it were possible for him to impose cost in the matter, he would have done so.

“I don’t like this. We know better than this,” Burnett said.

“Yes we do,” Simmons commented.

“This is a classic case of playing the system and when we do that, we make a mockery of the judicial system.”

Burnett said he was recusing himself from the matter and transferring it to a different magistrate.

The matter was transferred to Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court for hearing on July 12.

7 replies on “Magistrate peeved at ‘classic case of playing the system’”

  1. You all is pussyfooting there in saint Vincent. Utter nonsense. They say and he say. Get it together and let brunette d I his job with those thieves down there.

  2. Talking about “classic case of playing the system” in a matter that came before his court, and you wish to know “why do we play the system like this”?
    Yes Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett; I am glad that you made it inclusive by saying “WE have to do better than this …” thanks for highlighting your dis-appreciation for what has become the norm of a justice being played like a society sneered in an upright ‘CHEST’ game.
    It would seem that our legal mentors emphases on the subjectivity to lawlessness and less on upholding justice. Clearly as you have highlighted; the making of “a mockery of the judicial system.”
    In all honesty, ‘recusing you from the matter and transferring it to a different magistrate’ may be the most appropriate option but, unless the other magistrate presides on similar values as yourself, the “mockery of the judicial system” continues on the land. May God Help Us All.

  3. Duke DeArment says:

    Burnett is so very correct! The system is terrible, as are many of the “systems” in SVG! in addition to that, if someone steals a small sum from you and you take them to court, you are lucky if the case is complete before a year passes, because the defendant has so many chances to delay, even when found guilty! Do not forget that the system allows for tricky lawyers to thwart justice. It is so sad! I am sometimes surprised that anyone has to answer for their crimes in SVG before they die of old age.

  4. gilbertsnuts says:

    If I was Magistrate Burnett I would go and work in a different island. Just serving in SVG will attach a stigma to him. Better off where the grass is really greener.

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