It was a day of getting all procedural ducks in a row, as day one of the court martial of Ordinary Seaman, Tyrrel Gibbons ended in an adjournment.
Gibbons, who was represented by Attorney-at-law Larry Smith Q.C., is charged with a civil offence contrary to section 71 (1) of the Defence Act by wrongful communicating information contrary to section 2 (1) (a) of the Official Secrets Act, 1911, as amended by the Official Secrets Act, 1920.
The court martial was set to run from May 7-10 but has now been adjourned until June 5, 2019. This 28-day delay came after much reluctance from Prosecutor Lieutenant Jamar Bourne, who expressed concern that the long break would interfere with the other two court martials scheduled for this month.
This morning during the hearing convened at St Ann’s Fort, Garrison, St Michael, Gibbons was asked if he had any objection to being tried before any member of the tribunal, which was headed by Lieutenant Colonel Branch.
Dressed in his ceremonial uniform and seated behind his defence team, which also included Rita Evans and Lisa-Anne Arthur, Gibbons gave his consent to the proceedings.
However, Smith voiced concerns over several procedural matters and therefore requested an adjournment. In his submission, the lawyer argued that his client had only received full disclosure on Monday, and this did not allow sufficient time to give advice and instruction.
Additionally, the senior attorney queried why he is yet to see the evidentiary findings of several search warrants conducted by the police. He further requested the results of a polygraph test, which was administered at the time of Gibbons’ arrest.
Smith also asked for several other documents, including a layout of the base and military code. He argued that his unfamiliarity with the base and military procedures, made these documents necessary to his client’s defence. Smith urged the tribunal not to rush matters, as any procedural oversight could compromise the integrity of the trial.
In response, Bourne objected to the request for the layout of the base, citing reasons of national security. He also contended that the request for the polygraph result was pointless, as the prosecution had no intention of introducing it as evidence nor was it admissible in the first place.
However, in his rebuttal, Smith argued that it matters not what is admissible but rather what is relevant. He argued that while the prosecutor does not intend to introduce the polygraph results as evidence, aspects of the investigations were based on the results.
“The prosecution intends to bring witnesses who might refer to the results of this polygraph. The polygraph is a key component of why we are here,” said Smith.
Before granting the adjournment, Branch revealed that the tribunal declined Smith’s request for the layout of the base. She also urged the prosecution to obtain the search warrant information from the police and turn them over to defence counsel in a timely manner. Like Bourne, the tribunal did not see the pertinence of the polygraph test, noting that military personnel were routinely given this test as a matter of course.