Coast Guard Lieutenant David Harewood has been vindicated on two of the four charges brought against him.
A five-member tribunal, headed by president Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Johnson, today upheld a no-case submission brought by defence counsel Vincent Watson on the charges related to “communicating with the enemy”.
However, Watson’s attempt to have all four charges dismissed proved futile, as the tribunal ruled there was sufficient evidence for him to stand trial on the other two matters.
After deliberating for just over two hours today at the Barbados Defence Force’s (BDF) St Ann’s Fort headquarters, on the advice of judge advocate Neville Watson, the tribunal found Harewood not guilty of knowingly communicating with Akem Waithe, alias ‘Ellis’, without lawful authority, while using a cellular phone belonging to the BDF between August 7 and 10, 2018.
The panel also found the senior coast guard official not guilty of the charge that he communicated with a well-known drug trafficker on an unknown date in January 2018.
But the Tribunal ruled the accused would have to face the charges that he on an unknown date in January 2018, being a commissioned officer in the BDF, having knowledge of a threat to the life of a junior member, neglected to inform his superiors of such a threat, as well as that he conducted unauthorised information gathering operations, conduct unbecoming of a commissioned officer in the BDF.
The defence counsel had earlier advanced arguments on why all the charges against his client should be dismissed.
He argued the prosecution had not proven its case as there was no evidence a crime had been committed.
The defence counsel also suggested that statements by the prosecution’s principal witnesses Major Junior Browne and Warrant Officer Christopher Blenman differed and could therefore not both be the truth.
He asked the tribunal to reject the evidence given by both officers.
The veteran lawyer contended the prosecution had not proved his client had communicated with the enemy.
He explained that in the Defence Act, the term “enemy” was defined as groups of armed persons.
The defence counsel further charged that the prosecution had not proved his client had communicated with any well-known drug dealer.
As it related to the charges dealing with the accused’s conduct, the counsel said the law was “sketchy at best” with respect to good order and discipline.
He said there was a lack of good explanation by the law.
The defence counsel also questioned why the prosecution did not call the accused’s commanding officer to give evidence that those actions had brought the BDF into disrepute.
He insisted that the prosecution had not proved the accused knew of a personal threat to ordinary seaman Marlon Scott and had failed to report it to his superiors.
Watson further maintained that none of the witnesses called by the prosecution had produced any evidence to suggest the accused had gathered unauthorised information around Barbados.
On these grounds he asked the tribunal to dismiss all of the charges.
However, prosecutor Lieutenant Jamar Bourne told the tribunal he merely had to show he had established a prima facie case.
He said he had done so and there was enough evidence for the case to continue.
Bourne said there was enough evidence from WhatsApp messages involving the accused’s cellular phone to prove he had communicated with the enemy.
The Lieutenant said evidence provided by Major Browne and Warrant Officer Blenman had shown the accused knew of a threat against a junior officer and had failed to report it.
He said the accused had “intentionally neglected to report the threat”.
Bourne explained that the BDF should have been made aware so it could carry out its own investigations.
Following a 22-minute break, the judge advocate said after listening to both sides’ “high standard submissions”, he would advise that the first two charges be withdrawn, while the accused should be made to answer the remaining two charges.
He explained he was in full agreement with the defence as it related to the definition of the term “enemy” and that Akem Waithe did not fit that description.
The judge advocate also agreed that the prosecution did not prove the accused had communicated with a well-known drug trafficker.
The court martial continues on Monday when Harewood is expected to take the stand in his defence.
The defence attorneys also indicated he would call one other witness in retired Major Wendy Yearwood.