A week ago, he was the minister in charge of the transport ministry and it was under his watch that an ugly incident occurred on May 3 in the River Terminal that led police to bring criminal charges against two public service vehicle (PSV) workers.
However, as fate would have it, Michael Lashley’s Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government was swept from office in the May 24 election in which the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was catapulted into office.
Immediately, the Queen’s Counsel sought solace in his legal practice, and today made his first court appearance on behalf of the two embattled PSV employees.
In fact, while in the past Lashley would have had reason as minister to complain about the behaviour of these private transport operators, today he stood solemnly in defence of 34-year-old PSV driver James Anthony Andrews, of No 236, Apple Hall Terrace, St Philip, and 30-year-old conductor Travis Tremaine Brathwaite, of Sealy Hall, St Philip, who are facing separate charges following the recent incident with police, which was caught on video and made the rounds on social media.
It is alleged that on May 3 around 8:45 a.m. Andrews, the driver of ZR42, loitered in the area of the Nursery Drive Road for the purpose of soliciting passengers and was not properly attired with boots, shoes or sandals and such apparel approved by the Licensing Authority.
He is also accused of assaulting Police Constable Donette Cadogan, as well as threatening to rob and kill her. Andrews pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Brathwaite also denied obstructing, assaulting and resisting Police Constable Denis Murray in the execution of his duties on the aforementioned date, as well as damaging a shirt belonging to the Crown.
The duo was remanded to HMP Dodds on May 4 when they first appeared before Magistrate Graveney Bannister who had deemed the allegations against them to be “serious”, given that they were reportedly committed against officers in the line of duty.
However, today the two accused were granted $2,000 bail each when they appeared before Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant, with Lashley stating he was not ruling out filing a charge against one of the officers involved in a violent clash with his clients.
“I believe given the instructions from my clients I certainly will have to look at bringing a cross charge against the police officer,” he revealed, adding that he was concerned about the current trend of accused persons being tried on social media.
“I find that a lot of matters that are sub judice are being tried on social media. Accused men are being tried and convicted on social media and even with this matter there was a lot of hue and cry and persons making conclusionary statements about the matter and I think it is wrong,” he said.
The former Minister of Transport and Works said presiding judicial officers “should really send a warning to people on social media to really leave these cases out.
“Because some of them could be indictable matters that have to go before judge and jury and if you are out there on social media and you are influencing persons who likely will make up a jury, the question is whether this person will have a fair trial under the Constitution,” he added.
The matter is due to come back up in court on June 7.
In the meantime, following last week’s humiliating general election defeat, Lashley, the former Member of Parliament for St Philip North, said he was currently concentrating on his law practice and not his political future.
Lashley, who lost his St Philip North seat by just about 1,600 votes to BLP first-timer Dr Sonia Browne, said it was early days yet.
“But I am back in the courtroom now, so I feel good. I am not ready to talk [about the election] I am concentrating on my practice. I spent years in here before Parliament so it is a natural step back for me. I appeared in many criminal assizes so it’s just a natural transition,” he told reporters on the precincts of the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court.
He thanked the people of his constituency for their confidence in him for the past three election cycles.
“I am concentrating on my practice . . . . All I can say is that it will continue to help the people in St Philip, particularly in my practice of law, and assist those who need help, particularly the needy and of course the schools and other organizations.
“I just want to thank the people of St Philip North for reposing their confidence in me from since 2003 and want to thank them for their support,” he said.