Police are yet to receive a report from the Coroner following her decision to send the probe into the unnatural death of 12-year-old Shemar Weekes back to them for further investigation.
However, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Leacock, QC, told Barbados TODAY that the ball could end up in his court.
Following a two-month inquest into Weekes’ death, which a forensic pathologist had ruled a suicide, Coroner Manila Renee said earlier this month that she had found evidence of a prima facie case that a crime had been committed, and would therefore be putting the matter back into lawmen’s hands. Weekes was found hanging at his Fryers Well, Checker Hall, St Lucy home on May 14, 2015.
Up to this afternoon when a check was made by Barbados TODAY, Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith had not yet received the report, even though when Renee announced her decision on August 22, she had promised to dispatch the report – without a final verdict – that same week.
While admitting that he had not seen the Coroner’s report either, the DPP said this afternoon that the matter could be referred to him to determine if criminal charges should be brought against anyone if, in fact, a prima facie case had been found by the Coroner.
“The police can actually send it to me, if that is what she [Coroner Manila Renee] said . . . or if, as I understand it, she is saying they [police] should investigate more. They can do both . . . investigate along the particular line which she might have indicated should be investigated and then send it back to her, or if they have enough [evidence] they can send it to me,” he explained to Barbados TODAY.
Leacock outlined other steps which the Coroner and police could take in handling the matter.
“The police would have submitted a complete file to her. If she, having examined it, thinks there are certain areas in which they should concentrate their lines of investigation, that’s quite proper. They will do that and then they can send it back to her for her to determine if . . . she could make up her mind one way or the other,” he explained.
The DPP added that in a case where there was doubt about whether the Coroner could come to a decision based on what was before her, she could return an open verdict.
“And in that case, the police would be obliged to keep the file open, and if any new evidence comes forward, well then it could be put back before the Coroner. If you get overwhelming evidence it could be sent to me to determine if a criminal prosecution could be brought,” Leacock said.
Weekes’ death at the home he shared with his mother Julieanne Weekes and his younger brother came against the backdrop of claims by his great-aunt Clarista Mabel Daniel that he had been subjected to physical abuse at the hands of his mother over a period of time.
In her report last week Monday, the Coroner said that the “discrepancies, inconsistencies and contradictions” in the evidence of the deceased boy’s mother and his stepfather, Shawn Greaves were among the main reasons for sending the case back to the police.