The court martial of Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Private Raheem Reeves will continue.
That’s because Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley’s no case submission was rejected by the panel today paving the way for the matter to continue next Monday.
Reeves has pleaded not guilty to the charge that he left his duty station at St Ann’s Fort on March 14, 2021 without reasonable excuse while he was assigned as part of a COVID-19 Sanitization Unit.
During today’s proceedings at Hodgson Hall, St Ann’s Fort, Lashley informed Judge Advocate, Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney he would be making a no-case submission.
He contended that the prosecution had failed to prove its case and that a key piece of evidence was missing.
The defense counsel argued that no routine orders were presented to the court. He said such an order would have shown the date, the start time of Reeves’ shift, his lunch hour, supper break and when his shift would have ended.
He said without such a document present the prosecution would be unable to prove its case.
“This is a missing link with respect to the prosecutor’s case. The order which I was served just has his name, no time as to when his duty is to start and we are supposed to believe that a Tribunal should not be furnished with at least photographic evidence of what Private Reeves’ duties were on the compound as well as the start time and finish of his duties.
“If the routine orders were not produced we have no evidence or are these orders covered by the Secret Act that we can’t see them? If we don’t have those orders how can the court be satisfied?” Lashley questioned.
“I am saying in the insufficiency of an order directing or giving the court the time and end of his duty the question is whether it makes it possible that Mr Reeves ought to know he should be there at that particular time. It is an essential element.”
Furthermore, the Queen’s Counsel also contended that having been placed in a specialized project where his life was at risk, Private Reeves had received no training from the BDF.
He said without proper training he did not believe it could be referred to as military duty.
“No one came and gave evidence that Reeves was trained or that officials from the Ministry of Health came to assist in any training. It is my submission that for any military duty there must be training. Training should be linked to the execution of those duties and no documentary evidence supports that,” Lashley said.
On the issue of reasonable excuse, Lashley argued that Private Reeves had notified the BDF on a previous occasion that he did not like the food served there.
He said not only did Reeves sign out the log book, but also notified a superior officer that he was leaving the premises of the BDF to go home and cook his own food.
Lashley said he fulfilled his obligation by giving notice and speaking to a higher authority at the BDF.
The lawyer also questioned why no action was taken at the time when Reeves informed his superior that he was leaving.
However, prosecutor Captain Neville Corbin told the panel that he only needed to prove a prima facie case for the no case submission to be dismissed.
He maintained he had successfully proven that Reeves was subject to military law, that orders outlining his duties for March 14 had been enforced, that Reeves knew he had to perform those duties, that he left before he was permitted to do so and that he had no reasonable excuse to leave.
Captain Corbin said Reeves would have known of his 24-hour shift beforehand and therefore should have either brought his food to work, have someone bring it for him or ordered it and have it delivered.
He said going home to cook food was not a reasonable excuse for a solider to leave his duties.
After listening to the submissions of both sides, the panel comprising president Lieutenant Commander John Mapp, Captain Natalie Haynes and Sub-Lieutenant Jamal Wiggins were guided by the Judge Advocate before retiring for 20 minutes and returning.
The president returned and declared that the no-case submission had been rejected.
The matter is set to resume on Monday.