Outspoken attorney-at-law Arthur Holder today levelled a stinging attack against the Magistrates’ Court over the “inconsistent” manner in which it handles bails, after his client who is accused of importing over $800,000 worth of drugs into Barbados was remanded to HMP Dodds.
“There is a lack of consistency in the judicial system. What is fair for one needs to be fair for all,” Holder charged after prosecutor Sergeant Vernon Waithe was successful in his objections to bail for Duane Ryan Gittens.
The 34-year-old Gittens, a civil engineer of Lot 405 Westwood Drive, Husbands, St James, was arrested on August 31 following an operation at the Bridgetown Port conducted by the Drug Squad and Customs Enforcement Division.
Police say 40 pails of adhesive glue, each containing a quantity of cannabis wrapped in brown tape, were discovered, and investigations further revealed that these pails had arrived in Barbados onboard a cargo vessel from St Lucia and were consigned to a company in Barbados.
Lawmen said investigations by the Drug Squad led to the arrest of Gittens, and he was charged with possession, possession with intent to supply, trafficking and importation of 418.8 lbs of marijuana, with an estimated street value of over $837,000.
Waithe had appealed to the magistrate not to release the accused at this time because of the amount of drugs involved, the seriousness of the offence and the prosecution’s fear that Gittens would interfere with investigations.
However, an incensed Holder told Barbados TODAY after the sitting presided over by Acting Magistrate Sandra Rawlins in the District ‘A’ Traffic Court that bail had been granted to people facing charges in connection with drugs of much higher value.
The attorney mentioned several accused people who he said had been granted bail in the Magistrates’ Court for up to $3,000,000 worth of drugs, way more than the $837, 000 that his client is charged in connection with.
“Precedence has already been set in that the court can grant bail. I ask the court to be consistent because what’s good for the Jews must be good for the Gentiles,” Holder said, insisting that there was “nothing to say that my client is going to interfere with witnesses or that if granted bail he is not going to turn up for court.
“There is none of that, and he is not a flight risk.”
The veteran attorney, who practises criminal law, argued that his client is a businessman who has no previous convictions and is “a reputable citizen”.
“My client is not charged for treason or murder,” Holder maintained, adding that the court “must examine all the circumstances” surrounding the case.
“There is a lack of consistency and that is the problem I got in the Magistrates’ Court, that every magistrate does do as they like.”
He was also adamant that there was no direction for the Magistrates’ Court as it relates to the granting of bail.
“There is none. One magistrate can grant bail and the other magistrate can deny bail. Even though you are supposed to be guided by the Bail Act as to whether you should refuse or grant bail but obviously . . . it is left to the discretion . . . judgment and common sense of the magistrate.
“I would like to know what informs the magistrate’s decision. Based on the inconsistency in the Magistrates’ Court, I wonder if they really got judgment, if they are capable of exercising sound judgment in making decisions relative to the granting or denial of bail [because] based on the level of inconsistency it leaves a lot to be desired,” he stressed.
Gittens is expected to return to the No.2 District ‘A’ Magistrates Court on October 2.
“What is good for the Jews is good for the Gentiles,” Holder repeated. “My client ain’t got no connections that is why he ain’t get no bail.”