“Our judicial system is a joke!”
A frustrated Andrew Pilgrim QC, today uttered these strong words in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court, amid uncertainty over whether the Crown was proceeding with a murder case that had been pending for the past four years.
“We are incapable of guaranteeing anyone a trial within a reasonable time,” Pilgrim told acting Magistrate Alliston Seale. “If you plead guilty to a speeding ticket, you cannot get a trial within a year.”
Magistrate Seale had to adjourn the case again –– this time until May 28 –– after the police prosecutor, Sergeant Janice Ifill, said she did not know the status of the case as she was awaiting word from Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock QC.
Shamar Antonio Lynch, 21, of Walkes Spring, St Thomas and Micah Laron Chase, 28, of #4 Gullyfield, Bayville, St Michael are accused of murdering Julius “Ju Ju” Gittens, who died after being shot on Spry Street, the City, on February 18, 2010.
Ifill told the court that she had tried to reach the DPP since the last occasion when the case came up but was unsuccessful. As a result, she could not say what the status of the matter was.
Pilgrim, who is representing the accused, contended it has been more than four years since the murder charge has been hanging over their heads.
Originally, a third man, Andre Hinkson, was charged with Lynch and Chase but his case subsequently went before the High Court by way of paper committal. His trial ended with a jury finding him not guilty of murdering Gittens.
“If who is said to be the major player has already been acquitted . . . then the DPP . . . would be in the best position to say which direction the matter will go,” Magistrate Seale said.
“This can’t be justice,” he stressed.
It is understood that the preliminary inquiry into the charges against Lynch and Chase started but later stopped at the request of the DPP. The files were forwarded to him to make a determination on the case.
“Between the last 28 days and now, nobody has called Mr Leacock to see what is going on with this case?” Pilgrim queried.
The senior attorney then asked for the case to be dismissed, saying there were some people who “believe a murder case cannot be dismissed”.
The accused were “being prejudiced by this situation,” Pilgrim contended.
“Every 28 days, we have to explain to the same two people the same nonsense . . . that nothing is happening. But if you dismiss it, I am sure that somebody will call somebody . . . something will happen even if they relodge it again next week,” the senior lawyer argued.
Magistrate Seale said the situation also concerned him, while stating that “the status quo” could not remain. He said he too had “anticipated that something would happen today” since a prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Principal Crown Counsel Lancelot Applewaithe, was present.
Pilgrim also made reference to a Court of Appeal decision for which he was waiting for some time that was recently adjourned until June for a decision.
Saying he “may as well go to Hollywood”, Pilgrim remarked: “All I do is adjourn matters. I am an adjourner.”
He added: “Lawyers in this country have a terrible reputation. When lawyers steal from people, they make front page news. When we do free work, it is not reported. When we try to help people, it is not reported.”
Accused Chase also addressed the court, saying that he has a daughter in the United Kingdom whom he has not seen and would like to do so.
“You trying to make it look as though you want change but nothing is happening Sir . . .,” he told the magistrate. “My family depends on me . . . This system tries to create monsters. I was walking around in a frustrated state for over five years . . . . Anything is possible Sir.”
The acting magistrate asked the accused to desist from speaking and adjourned the matter until May 28.