There is absolutely nothing improper about granting murder-accused in Barbados bail, legal officials explain.
“High Court judges do not take the granting of bail to murder-accused lightly . . . . The law prescribes it and it is a right enshrined in our Constitution,” said prominent criminal attorney Arthur Holder.
The lawyer was responding to public outcry over the offering of bail to Andre “Lord Evil” Jackman earlier this week.
Jackman, who is Holder’s client, was charged with the April 2014 murder of Charlie Dume, who died after being shot in Nelson Street, The City.
Four of the five accused men in this case have so far been offered or granted bail.
The St Lucy residents include Jackman, 35, of Stroud Bay, Crab HiIl, Ryan Omar Samuels, 34, Shane Hakeem Omar Babb, 23 and Rory St Clair Thomas, 27, all of Grape Hall, and Zavier Renaldo Walkes, 27, of Archer’s Road, Crab Hill.
Accused Samuels has so far not applied for bail.
“The law gives a person the entitlement to apply to a High Court judge in Chambers for bail and a judge must balance the scales of justice against the rights of the accused and the rights of the society,” explained Holder.
“This is a whole year this man has been on remand and up to now I have not received a copy of any file. Where is the evidence against the man?”
“Judges look at the strength of the evidence,” he added, before granting bail.
Another criminal attorney, who preferred anonymity, stated that according to the Bail Act, persons accused of murder “could have always applied for bail” but noted that previously attorneys never did so, based on the offence itself.
That has now changed and lawyers have recently started applying for bail for clients accused of murder. It had much to do with the length of time accused persons were remanded without a preliminary inquiry having started, or where the evidence appeared very weak.
“Particularly where several of the accused have ended up being acquitted or their charge reduced to manslaughter, how long are you going to keep them in jail?” the lawyer queried.
He also made reference to the injustice of long remand periods for those who were charged with murder but where it was a clear case of self-defence.
“Some accused used to be on remand for seven and eight years waiting for their trial to start,” the lawyer recalled.
A judicial officer, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said, “there is no offence in Barbados which is not bailable.” “Some are just not bailable before the Magistrates’ Court,” he explained.
“The Bail Act is a powerful Act,” he added, “and when it comes down to strict law, the liberty of the subject is paramount. It is only on an allegation that the court would be taking away someone’s constitutional right to liberty.”
“At the bail application stage, it is merely an allegation and the granting of bail cannot be based on the accused’s reputation either,” he explained.