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Herbert walks

by Fernella Wedderburn
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Charles Herbert, Chris Rogers and Walter O’Neal Prescod

Almost a year after publicly declaring his innocence, businessman Charles Herbert today walked free of four drug charges.

However, his co-accused Chris Rogers, also a businessman, and sailor Walter O’Neal Prescod are still facing the July 23, 2018 charges of importation, possession, possession with intent to supply and trafficking of 267 pounds or 121.4 kilogrammes of cannabis. The illegal drug was estimated by police to have a street value of $534,160.

The charges stemmed from a drug bust aboard the Ecstasy, a private yacht owned by Goddard Enterprises.

Charles Herbert, Chris Rogers and Walter O’Neal Prescod

Charles Herbert, Chris Rogers and Walter O’Neal Prescod

When the three appeared before Magistrate Douglas Frederick this morning the prosecutor, Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Trevor Blackman informed the sitting of the recommendations from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Queen’s Counsel Donna Babb-Agard regarding the case.

ASP Blackman reading from a memorandum from the DPP which indicated that no further action would be taken against 62-year-old Herbert, of Redland Plantation, St George.

“A thorough review of the police file does not reach the evidential standard which justifies proceeding with the case against accused Arthur [Charles] Herbert,” the prosecutor who was acting as the DPP’s representative in the matter said.

He explained that the decision was taken on the grounds of the evidential test and the public interest test – which fall under the Code for Public Prosecutor of Barbados 2014.

The public interest test, Blackman said, required that serious cases such as possession and trafficking of illicit drugs, once grounded in the sufficiency of the evidence, must be prosecuted in the public’s interest.

“There is an inordinate prevalence of drug offences in Barbados and of the deleterious effects of drugs on our society and more particularly the youth. In cases such as this one, consideration must be given to factors such as, the seriousness of the offences committed; the level of culpability of each accused and the impact which these types of offences have on the community.

“The evidential test, requires that there must be enough evidence to provide ‘realistic prospect of conviction’ against each accused on these drug charges . . . that evidence must be reliable and probative . . .[and] meet the required standard to pass the evidential stage.”

As such he told Magistrate Frederick, “No further action should be taken against accused Herbert.”

In contrast, the prosecutor told the court
the evidence “satisfies a prima facie case” against the 56-year-old Rogers of No.27 York Road, Navy Gardens, Christ Church,  along with “ample evidence” which similarly establishes a “prima facie” case against 55-year-old Prescod, of No. 107 Emerald Park East, St Philip.

“The allegations as they stand against Prescod and Rogers which have grounded these charges are for the determination of a jury panel which sits as a tribunal of fact,” Blackman added.

After receiving a copy and reviewing the DPP’s document Magistrate Frederick told Herbert that he was free to go.

However, the magistrate is still to make a decision on the DPP’s recommendation that Rogers and Prescod be sent to the Criminal Assizes of the High Court.

Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, who represented Herbert, again called on the Crown to state its case and to point to aspects of the evidence on which it is relying that “imputes” Rogers, who he also represents.

Pilgrim also disclosed that he will make further submissions with respects to Rogers at the next District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court sitting on July 16.

The three men then walked out of the court – Herbert a free man and Rogers and Prescod with the charges still hanging over their heads. Accused Prescod is represented by attorney-at-law Verla DePezia.

It was back in July last year when they first appeared before Magistrate Frederick and were granted bail that Herbert called on the DPP “to urgently review the evidence that has been collected” against him and Rogers.

“I first want to assert clearly to the public that we are entirely innocent of all of the charges that have been brought and we have been charged with . . . . I want to say clearly to you all that all of the evidence that they [police] have clearly supports our innocence,” Herbert said at the time.

Since then the former head of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) and prominent businessman, “voluntarily stepped down” as chairman of the Board of Goddard Enterprises Limited (GEL). The decision took effect on August 7, 2018.

Before that he resigned as chairman of the (BPSA). fernellawedderburn@barbadostoday.bb

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