Those words were uttered by Magistrate Douglas Frederick yesterday as the staff of the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court came together for a moment of silence as a mark of respect for attorney-at-law, Allan Carter, who died last night at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Before the work day began, more than 30 persons –– magistrates, police officers, court clerks, reporters, prison and probation officers –– gathered in District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court No. 1, where Frederick thanked them for coming together for one “who has touched all our lives”.
Magistrate Graveney Bannister, who is also an Anglican priest, prayed for Carter and for strength for his family and loved ones.
Around both the Supreme and Magistrates’ Courts, persons huddled in small groups to reminisce about the man Carter was, while discussing the demands of the legal profession.
No matter whom you spoke to, the responses were similar. People were either holding back tears, were unable to talk about Carter’s passing or were still in a state of disbelief.
The late Jamaican attorney, 56, was described as a gentleman, a good man, a decent man, always happy but one who never seemed “to slow down”.
In the case of the policeman who helped to escort Carter from the courtroom yesterday when he first fell ill, all he could say today was “just so . . . it was a good thing I was lying down when I heard that he died”.
Another policeman who was in court yesterday when Carter informed Justice Jacqueline Cornelius that he was not feeling well, saw moments later that one part of his face had drooped and his left side had become unresponsive.
Yet another person said that both his work colleagues, Andrew Pilgrim QC and Angella Mitchell-Gittens, went to Carter when he first complained of feeling sick, but as soon as they returned to their seats, Carter’s condition seemed to worsen and he had to be helped from the courtroom, followed by his fellow attorneys.
Speaking on behalf of the Bar Association this morning, President Tariq Khan remarked: “We are deeply, deeply hurt by the passing of somebody who worked and represented his clients with all the energy that he could muster. A relatively young man who worked hard on behalf of the people that he represented. We mourn his passing.”
A visibly shaken Vonda Pile described Carter’s passing as a sad loss to the legal profession.
“We who practice criminal law are a small tight group. Sometimes I’m at District ‘F’ Court and Allan is at Holetown and he would message me and say: ‘They just called your matter. What do you want me to do?’ That is how he was; that is how that whole group operates,” Pile remarked.
She spoke of being shocked by his sudden passing.
Speaking on behalf of the magistracy, Acting Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch said: “The loss of Mr Carter is a tragedy for the profession. He was the consummate professional; always prepared, possessed of a gentle nature, meticulous and above all, a gentleman of good manners. We shall miss him.”
In a telephone interview, fellow Jamaican Angella Mitchell-Gittens said she “cannot even imagine the office without Allan being in it”.
The lawyer, who accompanied Carter in the ambulance yesterday, referred to her workmate as being “passionate about law and his approach to the job”.
Mitchell-Gittens added: “He made a stirring application for bail just before he said he wasn’t feeling well. I can’t believe it.”
Even at the hospital, she said Carter was still his jovial self. She said she offered to take out his shoes to his car for him and he responded: “Well, looka the day come that I left home with my shoes and now my shoes going home without me. I can’t believe that would be the last time I would see him alive.”
The law chambers of Pilgrim & Associates, where Carter worked, was closed today.