By Gloridene Hoyte
Owia resident Dale “Toad” Medica, 49, has been found guilty of threatening his MP, Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel, who was acting prime minister at the time of the offence.
After a trial at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Bertie Pompey found Medica guilty and bonded him to keep the peace for six months.
If he breaches the bond, Medica must pay EC$500 forthwith or spend one month in prison.
The prosecution’s case was that on July 18, at about 10 a.m. at Salt Pond, Medica, who was at his home, told Daniel, who is MP for North Windward, “Anywhere I meet you from today I will mash you up.”
However, the defence argued that Medica has actually said, “mess you up”, meaning that he would highlight publicly Daniel alleged victimisation of the defendant over lands on which he (Medica) lives at Owia.
Medica was found guilty at the end of a trial during which the prosecution and defence counsel repeatedly locked horns.
When Pompey handed down the guilty verdict, defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste said, “I’m not surprised” and informed the court that her client would appeal the verdict.
“There will come a time when justice would reign,” the lawyer told the court.
Immediate objection by defence
The trial was contentious from the beginning when Daniel mounted the stand at the start of the trial and the prosecutor, Corporal of Police Delando Charles told him, “Tell the court what happened at Owia about 10 a.m. on July 18, 2023.”
Bacchus-Baptiste immediately objected, saying that the prosecutor was leading the witness by giving him the location, time and date.
“Tell the court why you are here today,” the prosecutor then told the deputy prime minister.
Daniel told the court that on the date in question, he was in the company of the chief engineer and the chief surveyor as they were on official duty assessing lands to which to relocate homeowners as a result of the impact of Tropical Storm Bret.
Daniel said that as he got to where the lands are, he heard a “loud”, “raging” voice saying, “Dah man deh nah good. Dah man deh bad minded. Dah man dey wutless.”
He told the court the speaker further said that he wants to pay for his lands “but dah man dey no want me pay for me lands”.
The deputy prime minister further stated that the speaker said he wanted to get water on his lands “but dah man dey preventing me from getting water onto my lands”.
The virtual complainant told the court that the speaker then called his name, saying, “Gomery. Dah man dey.”
Daniel said when he looked around, he saw Medica, whom he has known for over 30 years but they do not have a personal relationship, coming towards him, repeating the same words.
Daniel said after Medica called his name, he responded, “I don’t give government lands to anyone. That’s the job of the office of the chief surveyor.
Daniel said Medica told him, “You got plenty lands but you have to dead and leave them one day.”
The deputy PM said he responded, “All of us has to die and leave whatever we have behind.”
Daniel said the defendant told him, “Is long time I have some wud (words) for you”.
He said he opened his hands and told Medica, “Bring them. If I can carry them, I will take them.”
Daniel said the defendant told him, anywhere he meets him, “I will mash you up!”
The minister said, Medica repeated the words to him, saying, “Anywhere I meet you, I will mess you up!”
Magistrate asked to recuse mid-trial
The prosecutor then asked Daniel what was his interpretation of those words.
But Bacchus-Baptiste objected to the question.
At this point, the magistrate said the words sounded like threats to him.
Bacchus-Baptiste then asked the magistrate to recuse himself from the matter.
“… you have not heard the defence and you are saying these are threatening words already!” Bacchus-Baptiste submitted.
She reasoned that the magistrate had already determined the case and told the prosecutor that his job was not to “win a case, but to present an argument”.
Pompey, however, proceeded with the trial and permitted Daniel to answer the question.
“I do not accept threats. And at the time, I was the acting Prime Minister and I was frightened and brought it to the chief surveyor and chief engineer as witness to the threat.”
The area representative said that after he and his companions finished their task, he made a report to the Owia Police Station.
Responding to a question from the prosecutor, Daniel said he was about 30-35 feet away from the defendant when the incident occurred.
During cross examination by Bacchus-Baptiste, Daniel said that Medica has never harmed him in the 30 years since he has known him.
“So, he is your constituent and you are the Minister of Lands. Is it quite normal for him to address you?” the lawyer asked Daniel.
“I would want to think so,” the MP responded.
Baptiste put it to Daniel the only reason he had brought the defendant to court was because Medica is “a strong supporter” of the opposition New Democratic Party and Daniel knows this.
The magistrate interjected telling the lawyer his is a court of law and she should not involve politics in the matter.
The prosecutor objected to the question and the magistrate told the lawyer, “Withdraw that.”
“You are spiteful,” Baptiste told Daniel, who denied that was the case, telling the court that a number of people who do not support him politically had received lands.
Witness testimony at odds with statement to police
Witness number two, Chief Surveyor Keith Francis told the court he knows the defendant only by face but knows his alias as Toad.
He said on the date, Daniel, he and the chief engineer made an official visit to Owia to identify lands to which to relocate people.
Francis said that as they were walking in the Salt Pond area, he heard a loud voice expressing displeasure.
He said the defendant told the minister, “Anyway I see you I go mash you up”
Francis said Daniel responded, saying, “You go mash me up; disrespecting me?”
Francis told the court Medica responded, “No. Just like how you messing up everybody.”
The witness said the interaction between the men “died down” but there was still some “back and forth” but he, Daniel and the chief engineer left shortly after as they had finished their task.
He said on their way from the area, they stopped at the police station and filed a report.
Francis said he was 25 to 30 yards away as he and the chief were in front and Daniel was behind them — about 15 yards from the defendant.
During cross examination, Bacchus-Baptiste noted that in his statement to the police Francis had said:
“Daniel then turned to him and said, ‘Is threatening you threatening me?’”
She noted that in the statement, Francis turned to Daniel and said, “No. No. No. Ah go mess you up like how ah doing now — in the public for everybody to see.”
Francis then told the court that if that was recorded in the statement, that is what he had told the police.
Bacchus-Baptiste told the court, the witness’ statement was clear and that her client did not threaten Daniel but said, “I will mess you up like how I am doing now.”
“What are we doing here?” Bacchus-Baptiste told the court as she emphasised that no threat had been issued to the minister.
‘I glad I get it off my chest’
The next witness was Corporal 112 Bowens who was on duty at the Owia Police Station when Daniel made the report.
He said Medica arrived at the station about 15 minutes later and he informed the defendant of Daniel’s report against him.
Bowens handed over the investigation to detective Corporal 339 Laborde of the Criminal Investigation Department, who is attached to the Georgetown Police Station.
Laborde said that on July 19, he met Medica at the Georgetown Police Station and informed him of the report made against him.
The detective said that under caution, Medica said:
“From since 2013, this man has the deed for my land and wouldn’t give me my land and I glad I get it off my chest.”
The corporal said he later arrested and charged Medica by virtue of a warrant and served him with a copy of the charge sheet.
Detective accused of charging prematurely
During cross examination, Bacchus-Baptiste put it to Laborde that he obtained a statement from Francis more than a month after arresting Medica.
Laborde said he had had a conversation with Francis on the day of the incident, having met him in town.
“A conversation is what you charged on?” Baptiste asked the corporal who told the court he has 18 years of service within the police force.
She put it to the investigator that he recorded the statement from Francis on Aug. 21, more than a month after charging Medica.
The detective admitted to the court that he did not get a written statement from Francis before Aug. 21.
Asked by the lawyer if he ever got a written statement from Francis, Laborde told the court, “No please.”
“You rushed to judgement! Had you properly investigated the matter, you wouldn’t have arrived at a charge,” Bacchus-Baptiste told Laborde.
“You charged him the next day, on a conversation,” the lawyer further stated.
“You were very unprofessional on the charge,” the lawyer told the corporal, who also admitted that he did not take notes during the “conversation”.
No case submission overruled
Having heard the prosecution’s case, Bacchus-Baptiste made a no case submission, which the magistrate overruled.
“If the matter was properly investigated and had it not involved Mr. Daniel, it would not be here today,” the defence counsel argued.
She noted that the charge read, “… in circumstances likely to cause a breach of the peace, Dale Medica made use of threatening language to Montgomery Daniel of Sandy Bay, to wit ah go mash you up”.
She noted that the charge did not include the words, “ah go mess you up”.
The lawyer argued that the prosecution had dissected the statement and decided to say, “ah go mash you up” while omitting “ah go mess you up”.
Bacchus-Baptiste said the prosecution did not provide any evidence to prove a breach of the peace.
She told the court that Daniel had testified that he opened his hands in a friendly way.
She said that Daniel’s evidence was unreliable and the only other witness was Francis.
The lawyer said her client did not threaten, nor used physical force against the virtual complainant.
She argued that even if Daniel heard “mash you up”, he told the court that the defendant said “mess you up”.
“I don’t know how they got ‘mash up’,” the lawyer said and asked that the case be dismissed because there was “no evidence”.
However, Charles argued that the prosecution had proven its case.
“If a person comes to me and says, ‘Next time I see you, I go eat you food’, that is not a threat?” Charles said.
The prosecutor said the defendant had said “I will mash you up.”
Charles further argued that Daniel had said that he was fearful when he heard the defendant utter the words.
After the magistrate’s ruling that Medica had a case to answer, Bacchus-Baptiste seemed surprised and exclaimed, “A case to answer?”
She again argued that there was no threat and that Medica had gone on to say how he would mess up Daniel, “as he was doing now and in front of everybody”.
Defendant fixed vehicle on MPs property after incident
The lawyer then said that her client would make a statement to the court.
In his statement, Medica said:
“I told Mr. Daniel anytime I see him I will tell people what he did to me from 2001 to 2023. I never one day in my life threaten Mr. Daniel with violence. At the end of the day, violence do not solve any problem. I was just telling Mr. Daniel my mind and how I feel for the past years. I feel victimised by him. I just want people to know why Mr. Daniel doesn’t give me the letter to pay for my land.”
The lawyer read the portion of Francis’ statement where he quoted Medica as saying, “No. No. No. Ah go mess you up like how ah doing now — in front of everybody.”
The defendant said that that was the truth and further told the court that he had told Daniel “mess you up”.
“I had no intention to threaten at all,” Medica told the court.
Responding to his lawyer’s questions, he further said he had seen Daniel since the incident, adding that in August, Daniel gave him permission to go on his (Daniel’s) property to fix a vehicle.
“He even blow (his horn for) me and I didn’t mess him up,” Media said.
In cross examination, Charles put it to Medica that for 23 years he felt that Daniel was victimising him and he (Medica) had animosity towards Daniel.
“Not really,” Medica said.
Medica said he never threatened Daniel nor was he aggressive. He told the court, he said “mess you up” and not “mash you up”.
In his closing submission, Charles argued that it was a “clear, simple case.”
Charles said he remembers one of his granny’s saying, “When you upset, is best you close your mouth because the mouth is faster than the mind.”
He said Medica had used threatening language and instilled fear in the virtual complainant.
Meanwhile, in her closing arguments, Bacchus-Baptiste said, “One of these days, we will get prosecutions who are fair minded…”
She said the defendant had explained that he only wanted to vent because he felt victimised.
The defence lawyer said that had the arresting officer done his job, the matter would not have been in court.