The police officer who alleged that Carly John, husband of opposition senator Shevern John, resisted his arrest and assaulted him during a protest in Kingstown on Sept. 9, 2021 has quit the police force and left the country.
And, the prosecution has asked the court for time to find out if former Police Constable 700 Verrol Sam would be available to testify against John via video link.
But, defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste told the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court that she will make abuse of process submission and ask that the charges against John as well as Sherry-Anne Caine be dismissed.
John is facing three charges over an incident in which a police officer placed him in a chokehold during a protest in the city.
Police have also charged Caine, who is alleged to have attempted to free John from the chokehold, with obstructing Sam, he being a police officer acting in the due execution of his duty.
John is charged with resisting the arrest of Sam, he being a police officer acting in the due execution of his duty.
He is further charged that he assaulted Racquel Coombs, causing actual bodily harm, she being a police officer acting in the due execution of her duty.
On Jan. 23, Senior Magistrate Colin John, who was commissioner of police when the charges were laid, granted an application by Bacchus-Baptiste and recused himself from the matters and transferred them to the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court.
When the matters were called before Magistrate John Ballah at the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court on Jan. 30, the prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Shamrock Pierre, told the court that he had noticed that the matters had been transferred from the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
Pierre further observed that the cases had been “in the system for some time”.
He said that based on a conversation he had had, Sam was no longer a police officer and was also no longer in the country.
“I need more information as to whether he would be in a position to give any evidence via video link or such,” Pierre told the court.
He said he would be making an application for an adjournment and, if need be, make a written application to the court regarding whether the prosecution would be proceeding via video link.
However, Bacchus-Baptiste described the situation as “So ridiculous!”
“If after two years he cannot come prepared to say wherever he at least can give evidence via video link, I must make abuse of process submissions,” the lawyer told the court.
She said she had known “months and months ago” that Sam had left the country. “They should be in a position to tell the court whether he is in a position to give evidence. Clearly, they are taking this court for granted,” the lawyer said.
Bacchus-Baptiste told the magistrate that she would like an opportunity to make delay submissions but would need another week or so to perfect them.
“Clearly, after two and half years, for the police to come and say Sam is out of the country is an abuse,” she said.
The lawyer told the court that John should have been travelling back to the United States but has remained in SVG because of the case, thereby missing out on a number of opportunities.
The magistrate ordered that the prosecution find out in a timely manner whether Sam would be available to give evidence via video link.
Once this is done, the prosecution is to make a written submission “right away” to the court for Sam to give evidence by video link, Ballah further ordered.
The prosecution is to also copy the submission to the defence to respond to and to make, at the same time, its submissions as they relate to abuse of process.
Pierre told the court that he had received the file just the previous day and it was then that he learnt that Sam had left the state.
The magistrate, a former police officer who was head of the Legal Research and Policy Unit of the police force, said he knows how the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution operates and why a prosecutor in an out district might not have the same information as a summary prosecutor in Kingstown.
He said that the DPP’s office also has to get its house in order.
Ballah said he would give ample time for all parties to sort themselves out and adjourned the matter to May 7.