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The accused, Annamay Lewis on Aug. 5, 2021 when she was arrested in connection with the Prime Minister's injury.
The accused, Annamay Lewis on Aug. 5, 2021 when she was arrested in connection with the Prime Minister’s injury.
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Kingstown Magistrate John Ballah has set Nov. 29 as the final date for the trial of Annamay Lewis, the 58-year-old Layou woman accused of throwing missiles in Kingstown on Aug. 5, 2021, the day when Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was struck in the head an injured during protest in the city.

Ballah told prosecutor acting Corporal of Police Corlene Samuel and defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste and Israel Bruce that he is “an equal opportunity hitter” and would dismiss the case if the prosecution is not ready.

He said that if the prosecution is ready and the defence is not or is absent, he would proceed with the trial.

The matter, which has been adjourned a number of times over the last two years, was set for trial on Monday.

When it was called, Samuel told the court that the prosecution was prepared to start the trial but one of its witnesses, a police officer, was out of state at the Regional Security System in Barbados and the court would take his evidence by video link.

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“Why wasn’t the application made long before? This is a 2021 matter,” Ballah responded.

Samuel told the court she only became aware that morning that the officer was out of state.

She told the court that the prosecution had four witnesses in all, including Sergeant Jacobs, the information technology specialist who was at the RSS.

Meanwhile, Bacchus-Baptiste told the court that she did not believe that the defence was in a position to start the matter, as she was yet to receive the “so-called warrant” for Lewis’ arrest. The lawyer said she had applied for disclosure of the document a year earlier.

Bacchus-Baptiste said she was not prepared to start the trial unless she had seen the warrant.

“This is a not a case that you can arrest without a warrant,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.

However, the magistrate, who took up his post in July, replacing former Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, said the notes before him said nothing about an application for disclosure of a warrant.

Ballah ordered that all documents related to the case be disclosed.

Bacchus-Baptiste told the court that there is also a CCTV footage that she has not had sight of, even as she noted that there was disclosure since September 2021.

The magistrate then said he was going to give the matter a final adjournment.

“… everybody should know me by now. When I say final, I mean final,” he said, adding that he was going to give a long enough adjournment.

“And if nobody has their house in order I am going to dismiss the matter,” Ballah said.

Bacchus-Baptiste told the magistrate she did not know who he meant by “nobody”.

“It has to be the prosecution. I would prefer if you said the prosecution rather than nobody because we have been coming here, myself and my colleague, and I stood up and asked for this disclosure a year ago,” the defence counsel said.

Ballah then responded:

“I am an equal opportunity hitter. If the prosecutor is ready to proceed and counsel is not here, I am proceeding. If the prosecutor is not ready and counsel is here and ready, I am dismissing it.

“So, when I say everybody, counsel, I mean everybody. I am an equal opportunity hitter. People need to understand that when I come here, I come here to give justice. And when I give ample notice of something, I have given ample notice so I mean it. On the next occasion, all parties should have their house in order.”

Bruce then noted to the court that the prosecution had said that they hoped to bring a witness via audio-visual link.

“It is not an automatic move that if a witness is not available that automatically he or she is permitted to come via audio-visual means,” Bruce told the court.

“There has to be a formal application by the Crown and justifying why the person must come by that audio-visual means.”

Ballah told Bruce that is why he had said that the prosecution must make an   application.

“You don’t have to remind me of that. The DPP’s office has a DPP, an assistant DPP, an assistant DPP, a senior crown counsel, two Crown counsel II and a whole set of Crown counsel. I say no more,” Ballah said.

Samuel told the court that the items that Bacchus-Baptiste had spoken of were disclosed.

“Each and everything on the file were disclosed, including the recording,” the prosecutor said, adding that she had just disclosed the warrant in court.

“Everything else, including the recording was disclosed to counsel,” the prosecutor said.

However, the magistrate observed that while in a trial everything appears to be adversarial, at the end of the day, all parties are all working toward a common goal: justice.

He recommended that the prosecution and defence have a sidebar outside of court and ensure that the defence has the items mentioned.

“Your honour, counsel got them,” the prosecutor said.

The magistrate responded:

“Prosecutor, prosecutor; counsel, stop. I am not going to have this. I have made an order. Abide by my order.”

Samuel then made “a formal application” for evidence to be taken via video link.

“It must be a written application,” the magistrate responded.

Bacchus-Baptiste then informed the court that the letter she received about disclosure says what was disclosed and when, except the two items she had mentioned.

“I don’t want to make it sound like I am misleading the court,” she said.

The lawyer then made an application for disclosure of the station diary in relation to Sept. 7, 2021 and the police officers who allegedly went to arrest Lewis.  

“I am making that application so that there is no delay. Because we can’t proceed without that either,” she said.

The magistrate ordered disclosure, including of the station diary, to the defence by Sept 6 and that any application that ought to be written must be sent to the court before then.

He reminded the parties that he had granted the final adjournment.

Bacchus-Baptiste told the court that she would have to accept the date blindly as she did not have her diary with her and did not know if she had a High Court matter on that date.

The magistrate told the lawyer that if the defence counsel are to appear before the High Court on that date, they must have a competent replacement to represent Lewis.

Lewis came to national attention in September 2021 after she was charged with wounding the prime minister during a protest in Kingstown on Aug. 5, 2021.
However, that charge was withdrawn on Sept. 15, 2021.

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