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Ashelle Morgan Cornelius John Karim Nelson

From left: Senator Ashelle Morgan, Cornelius John, and Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Karim Nelson. (File photos)

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Shooting victim, Cornelius John, 60, has been slapped with two threatening language charges, including one in relation to a complaint by his wife, Nicole John.

In a press statement, on Thursday, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sejilla Mc Dowall,  further said she has instructed Commissioner of Police Colin John to charge Cornelius John with using threatening language against Ashelle Morgan.

Morgan, a lawyer, government senator, and deputy speaker of the House of Assembly is alleged to have been present at John’s house when he was shot on April 13.

The DPP said she has further advised the police chief to lay charges of wounding and unlawful discharge of a firearm against Karim Nelson.

The charges against Nelson are in relation to complaints by Cornelius John. 

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Further, Morgan is to be charged with assault with intent to commit wounding, in respect of a complaint by Cornelius John.

The DPP did not give the details of the charges in her press statement.

iWitness News has confirmed that a summons has been issued for John to appear before the Serious Offences Court at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Similar summonses have been issued for Morgan and Nelson, well-placed sources have told this publication.

She said:

“I have submitted a comprehensive written opinion to the Commissioner of Police as I do in all instances of cross-complaints.

“There are a number of witnesses who provided statements in this matter. In the court process, facts, circumstances and legal arguments, can be properly distilled.”

The charges involving Morgan, Nelson, and John, are in connection with an incident in which John was shot at his home on April 13.

Nelson, Morgan and a third person, whose identity has not been disclosed, are alleged to have gone, uninvited, to John’s home ahead of the shooting.

The development has generated much public debate and the parliamentary opposition tried unsuccessfully, last month, in Parliament, to have Morgan barred from meetings of the national assembly, pending the outcome of the then- ongoing investigation.

In her statement on Thursday, the DPP indicated that in the interest of transparency and as a servant of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, she first reviewed statements in the matters on May 19, 2021 and gave directions for further investigative work to be done.

Mc Dowall said she again reviewed the statements on the May 28.

“Thereafter, the casefiles were resubmitted to the Commissioner of Police on a number of occasions and this was detailed by my memoranda dated 2nd June 2021, 11th June 2021 and 16th June 2021.

“In response, I have been furnished additional material from stage to stage, up to today’s date. This process will be ongoing as all casefiles remain subject to continuous review,” Mc Dowall said.

The DPP said she appreciates that the matter has caused “much public disquiet and widespread alarm, given the nature of the allegations; a fraction of which have been publicly discussed.

“Rightly so, I have had to approach the matter with celerity whilst guarding against a rush to judgment, bearing in mind the interweaving facts and interests.”

Mc Dowall said that it must be made clear, however, that the Office of the DPP is an independent constitutional office.

She noted that the Constitution and the laws of SVG say that the DPP “shall have power in any case in which he considers it desirable to do so — (a) to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law (other than a court-martial) in respect of any offence alleged to have been committed by that person;…”

She notes that the Constitution further prescribes: “In the exercise of the powers vested in him by subsection (2) of this section and section 42 of this Constitution, the Director of Public Prosecutions shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”

The DPP said that for the avoidance of doubt, she wishes to dispel any assumption that the Office of the DPP (National Prosecution Service) is “an extension of any ministry, organisation or other office, particularly the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.

“The role of the police is to investigate while a prosecutor advises on, not conduct, criminal investigations and prosecutes matters at various courts (that is, lead the case against the accused).

“It is an age old tradition of the office all cross-complaints are submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (National Prosecution Service) for directions to issue.”

The DPP said that [in] upholding the sanctity of the Constitution, there should be no improper pressure or influence on, or interference with, the exercise of the powers of the DPP, by any entity or individual.

“I have purposed to divorce myself from public discourse and I am not swayed by any politicking that may intently or inadvertently, directly or indirectly, serve to influence my decision making.

As a minister of justice, I am cognisant that justice has to be done and seen to be done. I have already addressed my mind to the retainer of a prosecutor,” Mc Dowall said.

“There are allegations of varying forms of violence which our society abhors. Even so, constitutionally, all persons facing criminal charges are deemed to be innocent, until or unless, a court of law determines guilt. As an ordered society, the Administration of Justice should take its free course, without prejudice, especially when matters are sub judice (meaning, under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere).”

Mc Dowall said that in coming to a determination, prosecutors apply the Code for Prosecutors of St. Vincent and the Grenadines which establishes a two-stage test: evidential and public interest.

She said that prosecutors first consider whether there is sufficient evidence and if so, whether there are public interest considerations, in favour or against prosecution.

“On the aforementioned dates, I resubmitted the casefiles for further lines of inquiries to be satisfied, so that I can come to a decision that is comprehensive and justified.”

Mc Dowall said that as DPP, she esteems her professional “obligations to act judiciously: without fear or favour, malice or ill will; regardless to the persons involved.

“I will not descend nor will I condescend. It is my obligation to uphold and maintain the integrity of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (National Prosecution Service) as the chief prosecutorial officer.

“I am resolute that I will not be swayed by improper influences that seek to heavily encroach on my decision making. I am empowered by the Constitution Order to come to a determination as to the direction of the complaints. I reason that the justice of the situation demands that the following matters are ventilated in a court of law as there are conflicting facts. Given my assessment of the facts and circumstances, applying legal principles and the Code for Prosecutors,” Mc Dowall said.

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One reply on “Shooting victim, alleged assailants charged”

  1. Ms. DPP, do your job. Stop being political. History will remember you with this case. Do the right thing, clear your name from corruption.

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