Veteran attorney Hal Gollop, QC, delivered a stinging attack on “bad practices” within the legal system today after his client was kept at HMP Dodds due to the absence of the magistrate hearing the case.
Gollop’s client, Ricky Kenneth Yearwood of 3rd Avenue Grazettes, St Michael, is charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding Jameelia Wahid on October 8. He is also accused of damaging a motor van belonging to Wahid on the same day, as well as trespassing in her house with intent to inflict serious bodily harm on her.
Yearwood denied all three charges when he made his first court appearance and has been on remand since October 12.
He was expected to appear before Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant today. However, he was not among the prisoners brought to the Bridgetown precinct, which drew the ire of the veteran lawyer.
“In accordance to that habeas corpus principle, prisoners [have] to be brought before the court. The freedom of the prisoner is always an issue and in this case the issue is bail. You can’t keep him up there at Dodds because a magistrate is absent. He is being held there illegally. The Superintendent of Dodds cannot remand anybody,” a visibly upset Gollop charged.
“It must be discontinued, My Lord, these bad practices that have an impact on the freedom of the individual . . . and the rights of the individual, as enshrined in Section 18 of the Constitution, must be protected. The court is the watchdog of these rights and we can’t treat rights of persons in such a callous manner. I want Mr Yearwood before the court!” he demanded as he addressed Magistrate Douglas Frederick today.
Gollop, who previously made several unsuccessful bail applications before the court on Yearwood’s behalf, also charged that the case as it stood was “riddled with inconsistencies and irregularities that have a serious impact on the freedom of this subject.
“And I am not pleased about it,” he said.
The senior lawyer also charged that it appeared “we are going backwards” at a time when human rights issues were receiving greater focus.
The Queen’s Counsel also argued that an accused person has to be brought before the court every month if incarcerated.
“That man is up there still on some excuse that the judge is on vacation. . . . What nonsense is this? . . . What madness is this? I am concerned about the protection of rights and the use of power or the misuse – [the] abuse, misuse whatever you want to use – of power by people who hold authority. It must not surface and if we are now grappling with things like that in 2017 it means we have gone backwards,” Gollop declared.
Following the lawyer’s submission, Magistrate Frederick pointed out that there might have been some administrative problem and he would request that the accused be brought down “as soon as tomorrow”.