A magistrate who until recently was a police officer has told his former colleagues that he will not allow them to violate the rights of accused persons.
“Persons have a right to know what they are charged with and must be served with a document to show the charge. And if police officers do not know, they must work under someone!” John Ballah said at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
“I will not allow the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to not get their just due because the police decide that they want to flout the Constitution. Never happen!” the magistrate further said.
Ballah was presiding over a matter in which Jackeem Jarmol Wilson, a 26-year-old fisherman, of Union Island, was charged with wounding a fellow islander.
At Wilson’s arraignment, the prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Shamrack Pierre told the court that he had sent the investigator, Constable 438 Jomo Gloster, to copy the report of medical injury so as to serve it on the defendant.
“You all (police) think that because I was a police officer for 20 years I will come here and side with you all? Never happen!” the said.
On July 6, police issued a wanted bulletin for Wilson stating that he was a person of interest in relation to a report of wounding.
Later that same evening, the police issued another bulletin stating that the accused was in custody.
On Wednesday, when Wilson appeared before Ballah, he pleaded guilty to a charge that on June 26, he unlawfully and maliciously wounded Dayshaun Joseph.
However, after listening to Wilson’s explanation, the magistrate entered a not guilty plea, ordered a trial and suggested that the accused get a lawyer.
Prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Shamrock Pierre did not object to Wilson’s bail but pointed out to the court that the police had issued a wanted bulletin for the accused.
The prosecutor asked the court to order that Wilson surrender his travel document.
Ballah set bail in the sum of EC$2,000 with one surety.
He also ordered that the defendant have no contact with the virtual complainant.
Wilson was also ordered to report to the Union Island Police Station on Mondays and Fridays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
He is to surrender all travel documents and the court ordered that stop notices be placed at all ports of entry and exits.
The magistrate adjourned the matter to Aug. 14 and transferred it to the Union Island Magistrate’s Court.
Ballah spent 20 years as a police officer before becoming a magistrate June 26.
He was called to the Bar in October 2016 and up to the point of becoming a magistrate was head of the Legal Research and Policies Unit of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
The unit aims to improve the service offered to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the swift execution of justice.
Among other things, the unit aims to develop and enhance case file preparation and investigation and reduce the timeline of case files readiness for trials.