A defence lawyer failed to show up or communicate with the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on Jan. 29 in a matter that was specifically listed for hearing on that day.
When the defendant, Fiziela Clarke, of Sandy Bay, entered the dock, she told the magistrate that her lawyer, Israel Bruce, had said he was in another court and had asked that the matter be stood down.
Magistrate Bertie Pompey said he was minded to continue the trial in the absence of the defence lawyer.
He said Bruce did not communicate to the court that he would be absent or late for the trial, which was specifically set down for that sitting of the court.
Clarke, a former clerk within the Ministry of Agriculture, is facing eight charges of theft.
She is accused of stealing over EC$195,000 from the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines between 2016 and 2019.
The trial started last November, when one witness was called to take the stand.
However, as the prosecution was about to enter a cash book into evidence, Bruce told the court that he had not received disclosure of that document.
Prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Shamrock Pierre then made an application for an adjournment to have the cashbook disclosed to the defence.
Pompey then ordered that disclosure be made by Dec. 11, 2023 and adjourned the matter to Jan. 29, 2024.
On Jan. 29, looking at the defendant, Pompey said, “I’m minded to go through [with the trial]”
Pierre told the court he was ready to continue with the trial and four of his witnesses were present.
“Not even an explanation [from the lawyer]. We had to travel all the way from Kingstown,” the prosecutor said.
“We set aside today just for this matter” the magistrate said.
“I am not going to accept tardy behaviour, whether [from] defence or prosecution counsel. I’m not going to tolerate it. They should communicate with us here [at the Georgetown Magistrate’s court],” Pompey said,
The magistrate adjourned the trial to March 18, saying that the trial will proceed even if the lawyers are before the High Court or Court of Appeal.
Appearances before the Court of Appeal takes precedence over High Court appearance and High Court appearances take precedence over magisterial matters.