“Hit criminals hardest where it hurts!”
That’s what Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Charles Leacock, QC, would like to see happen in this country’s judicial system, as he calls for a more emphatic response to crime.
Leacock said for too long criminals have not been feeling the full weight of the law, and the judicial system must now begin sending a strong message to those who choose a life of crime.
And he has proposed that it begins by denying murder accused bail and confiscating the ill-gotten gains of criminals found guilty of involvement in illegal activity.
“I really do not think that bail should be given to murder accused. We don’t necessarily have to review the Bail Act to do that. There will always be discretions, but what we have to do is to get the judges to be less willing to grant bail to persons because what experiences have shown are that it is quite problematic,” Leacock told Barbados TODAY in an interview this morning, shortly after addressing graduates at the closing ceremony of the Regional Security System’s Prosecution of Drug Offences course.
“People are out on bail and allegedly committing other serious offences and it is not the first time that it is happening. We will have to review the manner in which the Act is being applied.”
His comments came as 36-year-old Cheriss Ricardo Omar Ince, who is currently on bail for a murder charge, appeared in court charged in connection with the disappearance of 75-year-old Marcelle Smith on October 13.
A body which was discovered in a ravine last Saturday is believed to be that of the missing mother of three.
Leacock said unless there are exceptional circumstances, all murder accused should be remanded to HMP Dodds.
“You shouldn’t get bail for murder unless it’s a very exceptional case; let’s say in the case of a very elderly person or a very young person like a schoolboy with a very appropriate defence, like self defence. That kind of case you can understand.
“But the usual run of the mill shooting, I don’t think it is appropriate to give bail for. I agree you can’t keep people indefinitely and those cases should be fast tracked. But we must set up an administrative way of dealing with it, rather than just giving everybody bail for murder,” he insisted.
Furthermore, Leacock contended that prosecutors could no longer be satisfied with imprisonment as the only means of punishment.
He said he hoped that within the next six months the Statutory Regime on Civil Forfeiture legislation would be before Parliament, which, if passed, would allow for the assets of criminals to be seized.
“The prosecution thrust has now moved well beyond simply ensuring convictions or imprisonment. In addressing the crime problem, we as prosecutors can no longer be satisfied with imprisonment. We have to ensure that criminals are disgorged of their illegally gotten gains. That is the answer to the crime problem,” Leacock maintained.
“Crime must be shown to be unprofitable. It must be shown that crime does not pay. It must hit the criminals where it hurts most; in their pockets.
“Many career criminals, especially drug traffickers, consider imprisonment as an occupational hazard. Accordingly, going to prison is no big deal, especially if they know on release they have their stashes in store, or that their property can be enjoyed by their relatives, friends or criminal organizations,” he added.
Leacock said the assets seized could be used to fund the criminal justice system, to fund recovery programmes and to