Attorney Andrew Pilgrim, QC, has ridiculed as a joke” and “backward thinking”, a recommendation by a fellow criminal lawyer that gun offenders be remanded for at least 100 days before they are considered for bail.
Back in December, then Acting Attorney General Michael Lashley announced he would like the Freundel Stuart administration to consider going the same route as Trinidad and Tobago, in beefing up its firearms legislation.
“This is my personal view. Trinidad has passed a Firearms Act and their Firearms Act speaks to over 100 days on remand before you can apply for bail . . . once you are found with a firearm or committed any offence with a firearm . . . a firearm-related offence, and they have actually passed that legislation,” said Lashley, whose St Philip North constituency was reeling from two gun related deaths at the time.
However in an interview with Barbados TODAY Pilgrim strongly objected to the recommendation.
“They do a lot of things in Trinidad that I don’t want to do. The question is, is it right or is it wrong? You are telling me that a person is charged . . . and you are going to keep them in prison for 100 days automatically? What that means is that you are sentencing them essentially to 100 days before you start their trial and we know in the context of the system that we have here, they are not starting any trial in any damn 100 days, so that’s just a joke,” he asserted.
“It’s backward thinking. It’s saying ‘we can’t manage our backlog, we are not going to get a chance to try these people in a timely fashion so let’s lock [them] up before we try them.’”
He put forward an argument of a 79-year-old man who owns a firearm but forgot to reapply for his gun license and was charged with possession.
“He will have to go up and sit in prison for 100 days even if he is 79, according to what the Acting Attorney General was saying. It just shows a lack of thought, a lack of consideration and taking judicial power away from a judicial officer who can grant bail according to the needs of the society.
“You don’t know the circumstances in which someone gets charged with an offence, we can’t say that we are just going to lock up all of them, that’s just going to the opposite of what our system says — that’s guilty before proven innocent — and I totally reject any thinking along those lines as archaic and medieval,” Pilgrim said.