A veteran attorney is not at all happy about the way in which police are charging people for capital offences.
Criminal attorney Arthur Holder made his concerns known to Barbados TODAY immediately after his clients Andre Lord Evil Jackman and Zaviere Rrenaldo Walkes had a murder charge against them dropped in the Supreme Court, due to insufficient evidence.
Jackman and Walkes were among four men charged with the April 26, 2014 murder of Charlie Dume who was shot and killed while at a bar at Nelson and Wellington streets, The City.
After Justice Randall Worrell told the men that they free to go, an upset Holder this evening blasted the police over their handling of the case.
“The police are charging people for murder without the file being vetted by the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions]. You are charging a man for the most serious crime without the file being vetted,” an incensed Holder told Barbados TODAY.
He explained that under the law a voluntary bill of indictment was granted by a judge, based on the evidence in the criminal file, which in this case had not changed and yet his clients had remained under criminal charge.
“You have no evidence against the accused persons . . . . That is ludicrous. It is nonsense,” Holder complained, while asking, “How do you recompense those persons?
“Zaviere Walkes has been in jail for four years. Yes, I got bail for him, but he could not find a surety. So he has been in jail all of that time and now for the case to be dismissed with the same evidence,” the defence attorney bitterly complained.
He maintained that something was “fundamentally wrong and flawed” with the current justice system.
“How can that be justice? When the officer from the DPP presents the file to the court, does the judge read the file to see if there is sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment being proffered against the accused?” Holder further questioned while making it clear that he will be seeking legal redress for Walkes, as well as Jackman, who had spent two years on remand before the matter was discharged.
“You cannot give back a person years spent in jail. Something has to be wrong and that is a problem that I have and I am going to pursue assiduously . . . because you have taken away a person’s liberty. What do you say to accused persons, what, ‘you are sorry?’
“You have taken away four years or two years out of the prime of [their] lives, away from his family, his loved ones to tell them at the end, you are sorry. Something has to change and I intend to pursue it,” Holder warned.
He also called for a level of equality and fairness across the board as it relates to criminal justice on the whole.
“There must be an element of fairness across all sectors regardless of a person’s religion, creed, class, colour. We have to bring equality.
“Murder is a capital offence . . . . Taking time is not laziness. Get it right the first time. The file should be sent to the DPP to review the statements etcetera and to see if there is sufficient evidence to warrant the charge before the court. We got to get it right, that is my cry for justice,” Holder added.
In a brief reaction tonight Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim who represented one of the murder accused, Rory St Clair Thomas, shared Holder’s concerns.
“It’s a disgrace.
“I feel strongly that the use of the voluntary bill procedure is an abuse of process and is something that was used in medieval times.
“This was wrongly done in a cloistered chamber where the accused man had no representation and now in the light of day it has to be dismissed. Even more ridiculous because the press and the bogglers are going to say it had to something to do with Lord Evil, which it absolutely does not. Lord Evil like all the others should feel extremely upset that this has happened at all and he was deprived of his freedom for an extended period of time. All of them should feel extremely aggrieved,” Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY.