A Bridgetown magistrate under fire over his sentencing practices has cleared the air surrounding his decision to bond a man who allegedly attacked his ex-girlfriend with a cutlass.
Magistrate Douglas Frederick has come under heavy criticism on social media and lambasted by two women advocacy groups, after it was reported last Friday that he had placed Quincy Orlando John on a bond to keep the peace for six months after he admitted to assaulting his former girlfriend Natasha Lewis.
At the centre of the public outcry was Frederick’s decision to save John from incarceration while he remanded Timothy Rugrat St Pierre to prison for a week for jumping on the counter of Chefette Restaurant’s Lower Broad Street branch.
The National Organisation of Women (NOW) and Soroptomist International of Barbados publicly queried the magistrate’s ruling with NOW suggesting that it appeared to rank business ahead of a woman’s safety.
However, today in a packed District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court and in the presence of NOW president Marsha Hinds, Magistrate Frederick revealed that he had not been privy to the full details of John’s case.
He said prosecutor Sergeant Vernon Waithe in revealing the facts had chosen not to divulge that John had driven his car at the complainant or that he had attacked her with a cutlass.
The magistrate said the prosecutor’s decision had caused him much distress.
“Based on the information I received I made a decision, but on social media and in the papers it was said and juxtaposed with this matter with St Pierre and it has caused me a lot of distress.
“It has brought the judiciary into disrepute. Then I got a letter from NOW and it was copied to the Attorney General and the Chief Justice and the letter spoke of a need for training and highlighted the need for training and the deficiencies in the system and all of that,” Magistrate Frederick contended.
“That was crazy because I have been highly trained in these areas, through the judiciary and I have even gone on my own volition. I have attended seminars with the last one being at the Hilton on Gender Sensitivity put on by the Canadian High Commission. I’ve been trained by the British, the Americans for the past 20 years that I have been in this business…I have had tremendous training in my deliberations and I have always taken pride in listening to people when they come to court…so it has caused me a lot of distress.”
The magistrate then sought to hear from the prosecutor why he deliberately opted not to mention all of the facts.
In his defence, Sergeant Waithe said he presented the facts which were related to the accused’s charge.
“I read the facts on the offence which was before the court. It was based on the allegations before the court,” he said.
But the magistrate explained to the prosecutor that his actions had put him in the hot seat.
“The truth of the matter is that I cannot put the blame on NOW or the people on social media because they thought that those were the facts that were revealed to me. I was wondering if I had actually dealt with the case they were talking about.
“You did not tell me all of the facts and that has put me in a serious position and it has put the whole court in a serious position…you decided what I should hear and what I should not hear… and as a result I did not know everything that was put in the press,” Magistrate Frederick pointed out.
After acknowledging his mistake, the prosecutor offered an apology to the magistrate.
“I apologize for not disclosing all of the facts and I am sorry that it caused you great distress. I am also sorry for the letters that were sent off to yourself from the NOW that were copied to the Chief Justice and the Attorney General questioning your character.
“I do sincerely apologize to the court for my actions,” Sergeant Waithe said.
In a brief word to the court, the NOW president said the letter was not intended to impute his character or to single him out.
Layne said she merely wanted to point out the deficiencies in the judicial system.
The complainant in the matter then told the magistrate she did not want the accused incarcerated as he was a “good father”.
She however, suggested that he undergo counselling for his anger.
Magistrate Frederick then ordered John to seek anger management counselling.