Veteran prison officer Trevor Browne was released on $1,000 bail when he appeared before a District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court this morning on four charges related to inciting mutiny or sedition at Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds, St Philip in May this year.
Browne, the president of the Prison Officers Association of Barbados pleaded not guilty to all of the charges that between May 1 and May 9, he maliciously endeavored to seduce fellow officers David Davis, Ophneal Austin, Shanell Ellis-Vaughn and Stephenson Trotman from their duties.
The charges stem from claims that the association leader tried to encourage these prison staffers to stage a sick out.
The accused, who was accompanied by his wife Wendy and nearly a dozen fellow officers who turned up at the court in St Matthias, Christ Church in solidarity, was ordered by Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch to return on February 18 next year.
Browne’s wife stood surety for him and was reminded by Magistrate Birch, that her responsibility was to ensure her husband kept his court date.
Also in court were Browne’s legal counsel Andrew Pilgrim and Senator Caswell Franklyn, the Prison Officers’ Association’s industrial relations consultant.
Pilgrim told the Magistrate he was looking forward to full disclosure from the prosecution and how the case will unfold when it comes to a trade union leader being allowed to fulfill his role.
Dressed in a pink shirt, dark trousers and black tie, the accused slowly walked out of court with arms around his wife.
Followed closely by Senator Franklyn, Browne then raised his hands in the air as he paused and told waiting reporters: “Tell the world. I’m being oppressed.”
Almost in the same breath, the prison officer of 34 years’ service, asked photographers: “Want me to smile?”
In responding to questions from reporters, Franklyn said as far as he knew, no one has ever been charged in Barbados under the legislation that has brought Browne before the court.
Browne was charged under Section 27, Chapter 168 of the Prison Act which states that any person who, directly or indirectly, instigates, commands, counsels or solicits any meeting, sedition or disobedience to any lawful command of a prison officer to any other prison officer, or maliciously endeavors to seduce any prison officer from his allegiance or duty, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of one year.
This same Act also explains that its provisions cover persons who incite or aide desertion and sedition.
Sedition refers to conduct or speech that incites persons to rebel against authority. This rebellion may encourage insurrection against the established order or resistance against established authority.
If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail.