The court martial against Ordinary Seaman Raheem Reeves was dismissed today after three media houses published information from a voir dire which prejudiced the accused.
Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley, who appeared on behalf of Reeves along with Simon Clarke and Sade Harris, successfully argued that the Barbados Advocate, Barbados TODAY and the Nation newspaper all carried information from Monday’s sitting that the panel of President Major Alfred Taylor, Captain Michael Jules and Captain Patrice Cummins, should not have been privy to.
Lashley said the publication of the voir dire evidence and results prejudiced his client’s rights to a fair trial.
“It is our humble and respectful submission that the publishing of a result of the voir dire severely and heavily prejudiced my client’s right to a fair trial and that it has tainted the proceedings. No reasonable tribunal can be purged of such a taint. They are other defects but this trumps the other defects. This submission is based on the case law reported and unreported,” Lashley said.
Prosecutor Captain Neville Corbin agreed with Lashley and submitted that in accordance with section 101 of the Defence Act Cap 159 the court martial should be dissolved and a report be made to the Chief of Staff and the convening officer of the proceeding. He further submitted that the accused should be retried at a later date.
However, Lashley objected to his client being retried, saying that the taint to the proceedings was “far reaching” as all three media houses had online publications and it was unsure who had read the articles.
Judge Advocate Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney agreed with Lashley’s submissions.
She said the major publishing houses published in varying lengths of detail the details of the voir dire and she had taken guidance from the case of Boldon Cumberbatch vs the Queen.
Delaney, though, said she believed the accused soldier could be retried.
“I am of the opinion that the accused has been prejudiced. I do not agree with counsel that the case should not be retried,” she said
Delaney explained to the media that a court martial is like any other court and if the panel is withdrawn the matters discussed in their absence should not be published.
“These five officers are akin to the nine who sit in Whitepark Road. What occurs in their absence must not be disclosed. The actions of the media have resulted in a waste of the time and resources of the BDF and the civilians involved,” she contended.
The matter was then dismissed with the president stating that he would report the actions to the convening officer.
Reeves had pleaded not guilty to two counts of Neglect to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline. ([email protected])