A St Michael resident charged with two serious offences walked out of the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court a free man yesterday, after the prosecution was unable to begin its case against him.
Stephen Michael Leroy Stuart, of 11C Rosemont, Deacons Road, St Michael, had been accused of inflicting serious bodily harm on Dereck Jones on July 9, 2016, with intent to maim, disfigure or disable him. He was also facing the indictable charge of using a firearm without a valid licence.
However, when Stuart, who had been on remand at HMP Dodds since August 3, 2016, appeared before Magistrate Douglas Frederick and the prosecutor requested an adjournment on the firearm matter, defence attorney Andrew Pilgrim, Q.C made another application for the case to be dismissed.
“We are suggesting, Sir, that . . . we get an adjournment of that matter because we do not know what evidence is in that matter,” police prosecutor Sergeant Neville Watson told the court.
But that request did not sit well with the defence attorney who had previously made several applications for the case against his client to be dismissed on the grounds that the complainant was no longer interested in testifying.
“The defence, the prosecution . . . and the court were in agreement that the charge vis-à-vis the wounding was done. There was nothing that we or anyone else could do to revive it,” Pilgrim said, adding that it was also his understanding that the sole purpose of yesterday’s court hearing “was to determine if the Crown was of the belief that they could prove the use of firearm without the evidence of the complainant”.
The veteran attorney also pointed out that at the last sitting, a “specific undertaking” had been made by another prosecutor that he would “come and face the music” whatever the position.
“This man sits in prison while we debate whether we can or cannot find evidence . . . . Seven months on, they still don’t know . . . if they have a case,” the Queen’s Counsel said.
As Stuart sat quietly in the docks taking in the proceedings, his lawyer again called for the matter to be dismissed, arguing that the Crown could re-lodge the case if it so desired.
When Magistrate Frederick weighed the arguments, he pointed out that the previous prosecutor had given an undertaking to move the case forward, but instead of that being done, another application for an adjournment had been made.
“[I am] between a rock and a hard place here, because there is not much that I can do other than dismiss the matters today,” he said.