With both her attorneys-at-law absent, one reportedly ill, accused mother Felisha Osula Holder appeared before a High Court today and made submissions on her behalf saying, “I think I am capable enough to speak for myself.”
The Hopefield, Christ Church mother is charged with causing the death of Abijah Holder-Phillips, her son, by dangerous driving on June 26, 2015. The 11-year-old boy lost his life along the Adams section of the ABC Highway, at the entrance to the Villages at Coverley.
Holder told Justice Christopher Birch in Supreme Court No. 5A today that her lawyer indicated to her that the prosecutor’s office had been served with a civil suit pertaining to the matter of her son’s death.
However, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Alliston Seale, who asked about the whereabouts of the other lawyer if one was ill, informed the accused that the civil matter had no bearing on the criminal matter.
In fact, he said that the matter she was referring to would be before the Solicitor General’s Office and was not a matter for the DPP’s office which deals with criminal cases.
“No disrespect to the accused but that is why I wanted counsel to be here because what the accused is speaking about it is clearly out of her depth. A civil matter has no bearing whatsoever on a criminal matter and the Crown is ready to proceed with the criminal matter,” the deputy DPP said.
Seale explained that the only way “a civil matter can stay a criminal matter” was based on whether the accused was arguing a constitutional issue, where the court would make certain orders “to stay” the criminal matter pending the outcome of the constitutional issue.
“One cannot impact on the other to prevent the other from moving forward and I am loathe to say that the lawyer gave her incorrect instructions because I don’t know what transpired but I am hoping he didn’t say that because clearly that would be incorrect.
“These are two matters, running on two different tracks, on two different trains. My train is the criminal train and this is the matter that I intend to prosecute. So unless I hear from a higher court that I am stayed from prosecuting this matter, I expect this matter to be set down for trial and I expect to proceed with it.
“I have not seen a file, I know nothing of the file,” Seale further stated referring to the civil case.
He also told the court that it would be unfair, unkind and highly improper to ask Holder to respond to legal issues when she had already complained that she does not understand the “intricacies” of the court system.
Holder responded saying while she may not be “very au fait with criminal matters and laws and all these things” since she was charged she had found herself “dabbling and finding out things”.
However, Seale made it clear that he was not prepared to engage in a “back and forth” with the accused and would be prepared to argue with her counsel when he comes.
“I am not prepared to argue with a lay person on issues of the law,” he stressed.
Justice Birch told the accused to have her attorneys present on April 20 and inform them to reach out to the DPP’s office so that any outstanding issues could be settled before then.
The judge also said that by that date he expected everyone to know what they are doing so the case can move forward.