The court was today asked to show mercy on the mother of Jahan King, as she appeared in court with her boyfriend charged with the unlawful killing of the six-year-old last June.
The appeal was made by defence attorney Samuel Legay, who is representing 26-year-old Lasonta Katrina Gill and her partner, 33-year-old Dwayne Alistair Marshall, both of whom reside at Belfield, Jackson, St Michael.
Neither was required to plead to the indictable charge which Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant read to them.
However, in appealing for bail to granted to Gill, who showed no emotion during today’s appearance in the District “A” Magistrates Court, her attorney told the court that she has been employed as a cashier by the same supermarket for the past ten years and has never been charged “before any of the courts in this island”.
Legay added that to remand Gill, who appeared to have gained some weight since she was last seen in public at her son’s funeral last Augus 20, could jeopardize her job. He further contended that given the economic climate in Barbados, Gill, who was allowed to appear without handcuffs even though her co-accused was restrained, might experience difficulty in being re-hired after awaiting the outcome of her trial.
This morning there was a heavy security presence around the precincts of the court, as the two accused appeared somewhat subdued as they were led briskly to and from the court.
However, Marshall appeared to lose his cool when Sergeant Janice Ifill referred to him by his surname only in her objection to bail.
As Ifill sought to point out the seriousness of the offence, Marshall’s antecedents and the fact that he was already on bail in relation to other serious offences, the accused labourer made known to her and the rest of the court gathering that he felt she should have called him “Mr Marshall”.
However, that did not stop the prosecutor from proceeding with her submission.
Before a moderate gathering that included the victim’s maternal grandmother and adopted paternal grandmother, Ifill reminded the court that even though bail was the right of accused persons, it was “not an absolute right”. She also asked the court to consider “the mood of the society at this time in relation to such offence”.
However, Legay advised the court that it had to be “very fair” in dispensing justice, particularly in a case where there was much public outcry.
“In as much as we hear the outbursts and the outcries from society . . . an accused’s man’s freedom is ultimately what a court has to look at,” Legay argued.
The attorney went on to point out that since Jahan’s death on June 29 last year, members of the public have been calling for someone to be held responsible and to be charged.
Legay agreed with the prosecutor that the charge was indeed serious, but felt that “persons who are charged should have their case done fairly”, while insisting that public outcry and the accused’s right to freedom had to be balanced by the court.
He pointed out that in all previous matters in which he had represented Marshall before the courts, the accused man had always complied with conditions and turned up to court as required. He also said as far as he was aware, Marshall only had one outstanding matter, which was down for hearing next month.
Legay further argued that if Marshall’s antecedents had been of a similar nature, or if there was proof that his client would interfere with witnesses or was a flight risk, then the prosecutor would have been justified in her objections “and I would take my seat.
“He is 35 years old, he is gainfully employed as a labourer and I see no reason for bail to be denied to the accused man,” Legay said.
The lawyer asked the court to grant both accused bail, with any conditions it deemed necessary.
“To deny the accused bail at this juncture would create an injustice toward them, especially Gill,” he concluded.
The bail application was denied and the two return to court on May 23.