He was known for his strong conviction, zealous debates and love for his family. By all accounts, the late Charles Leacock, QC, was passionate and dedicated to all things he set his mind to in his lifetime.
That was the sentiment at today’s funeral service of a man who was responsible for the conviction of some of Barbados’ worst criminals during his 20-year tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
A household name in the judiciary of Barbados and throughout the Caribbean, Leacock was cremated following the service at the Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels, which was attended by past and present members of the legal fraternity, including those he often opposed in the court room. The congregation also included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite and other members of the Cabinet, members of the House of Assembly, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and other distinguished persons.
During the two-hour service, Leacock’s widow Betty June was comforted by their sons Donald and Brian.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Donald, in a low and resolute voice, spoke of how his father went from working in the topography department at the Ministry of Agriculture in Guyana to becoming one of Barbados’ best legal minds.
He recalled that his father often proudly spoke of his successful conviction of seven young men for the murder of Earlyn Garnes in 1992. That was a battle between one prosecutor and eight defence attorneys, in which Leacock was the victor.
Aside from his decorated legal accomplishments, Leacock was dedicated to his family, helping his youngest son, Brian, a law student at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill campus, with his studies and fostering his older son’s talent in golf from a tender age.
“He had an undying love for the game. We would play at least three times a week from the time I was six years old,” Donald said, humorously adding that his father would be remembered by fellow golfers for his “fine, unorthodox swing”.
“Golf is a game where one has to be quite meticulous and take time and precision on every shot, but he always used to just walk up to the ball and hit it.”
Donald said his father always made time for his family, taking trips during the summer and making sure they spent quality time together.
“I remember some nights eating dinner and he would also make us sit down – my mother, my brother, myself and my grandmother. Looking back on that I didn’t get the point of it, you know. I thought I could be watching TV or relaxing in my room, but now I really realize how much this family time that he insisted that we spent together really meant to all of us,” he told the congregation.
“He did everything he possibly could to make our dreams come true. He was the greatest role model I could ever have.”
Offering his condolences to Leacock’s family, friends, and the department of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which was jolted with the news of his sudden death while undergoing an operation in Florida on July 8, the Chief Justice reminded that Leacock was the country’s youngest ever DPP.
Appointed to the coveted position at the age of 39, he was one of Barbados’ best legal minds, always ready for a challenge and possessing a firm resolve.
“He relished a good legal battle, whether a trial or appeal . . . . And, like all lawyers, he liked to win. His resolute approach to cases could on occasion even appear to be a little disrespectful, and yet as the DPP he was very aware of his position as a minister of justice; an idea which infused his entire department,” Sir Marston said.
“And so, on several occasions, he and his fellow prosecutors have conceded where they were wrong, even if he still held fast to prove that he was not in doubt.”
Reverend Canon Noel Burke of St David’s Church was a friend of Leacock who also served as the chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Barbados and the Province of the West Indies.
Burke spoke of Leacock’s close relationship with God.
“Charles brought his personal religion to all aspects of his life. . . . It was in serving the people of Barbados that Charles manifested his love for God. God Almighty imparted to him the gifts of intellect, wit and wisdom and he used all of these in the legal field,” he said. “It was his view that while we can, we must, with every opportunity… give honour and worship to God Almighty.”