The theft conviction of lawyer Vonda Pile on Tuesday is a clear signal to the public that not even those involved in the justice system are above the law, president of the Barbados Bar Association, Liesel Weekes has told Barbados TODAY.
Offering sympathy to Pile, Weekes said her heart goes out to her colleague in the legal fraternity, and suggested the criminal justice system may be making an example of the attorney-at-law, amid concerns of mishandling of funds entrusted to lawyers.
But the head of the Bar also expressed the hope that the guilty verdict would help dispel the belief that lawyers look after their own.
She said: “So far as it could, public confidence in the system is boosted to the extent that people would now see that lawyers are not above the law.
“I am sorry that Ms Pile had to be the method of example but the public can feel reassured that whether it is a lawyer or a man with a nail clipper, we are all the same.
“Once a jury finds that you are guilty of a criminal offence, whether you are lawyer or former prime minister’s brother, you are not above the law.”
Pile is now in jail awating sentencing, despite two submissions for her to remain on bail moments after she was found guilty on a majority verdict of stealing $191,416. 39 (US$96,008.22) from her client, Anstey King.
Madam Justice Pamela Beckles stated that the maximum sentence for such an offence was “a lengthy one” which must be considered under the circumstances.
“We have to be very careful in the precedence that we set,” the judge said as she remanded Pile to Dodds pending sentencing and as her colleagues watched, some tearful.
Pile has maintained her innocence throughout the trial, declaring: “I am going to thank the jury for their decision. I am going to maintain even though the jury brought back a seven – two verdicts of guilty of theft… that at no time have I ever or at any time been guilty of dishonesty or theft.”
But the Bar Association leader told Barbados TODAY that there were similar cases coming up for trial shortly. She also pointed out that at times persons might be tempted to be cynical about the system as the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, but she assured that regardless of one’s status, there is no outrunning the long arm of the law.
“This is a ten year-old case and there is another that is coming up which is also ten years, and people would tend to say that we are just running down the clock until people forget and then we put it aside,” Weekes said.
“So these cases pushes up the confidence level a notch because people will be able to see that justice will be done in the end.”