The decision by Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Private Raheem Reeves to leave his post to go home to cook is unprecedented.
That is according to head of the Health Services Platoon at the BDF, Captain Donville Dash, who today told a court martial that in his 30 years of service he had never heard of such an occurrence.
Captain Dash was giving evidence in the court martial against Reeves, who is accused of leaving his duty station at St Ann’s Fort on March 14, 2021 without reasonable excuse when he was part of a COVID-19 Sanitization Unit.
Under cross-examination by Captain Neville Corbin, Captain Dash said the decision by Reeves not to eat food from the BDF was not a request but a personal choice.
He said other soldiers sometimes brought their own food to work or ordered food to be delivered to the BDF’s St Ann’s Fort headquarters.
Captain Dash further explained that a soldier needed to request lunch leave for authorisation to leave the base. He said on the day in question he could not recall issuing Reeves a leave pass authorising him to leave the BDF’s headquarters.
He maintained that it was improper for any soldier to sign out and leave the BDF without permission.
“You can’t just up and leave without the requisite permission. What he did is unheard of. It is the first time in my military career that I have heard of a soldier leaving his post because he does not eat the BDF’s food,” Captain Dash said.
He further explained that in some instances a soldier would request a special diet. He said in that instance the soldier would be seen by a medical doctor and assessed and then referred to a dietician.
Captain Dash also disclosed that Reeves had received training as part of the COVID-19 Sanitization Unit.
He explained that as part of the training, persons would work in pairs until it was determined they were proficient enough to work alone.
Earlier under examination by defense counsel Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley, Captain Dash said he had never seen a written request from Reeves to eat food outside of the BDF’s headquarters.
He indicated that he had a formal conversation with Reeves, who told him that he did not eat food from the BDF.
Captain Dash said there was no need for that information to be documented as it was a matter of “personal choice” and not a request.
Lieutenant Coast Guard Sena Price was also scheduled to take the witness stand today but could not do so because she is on sick leave.
Lashley told Judge Advocate Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney that while he would have preferred to have her attend the court martial in person he would have a conversation with her today to determine whether he would accept her as a witness virtually.
Captain Dash had also taken to the stand at the beginning of the proceedings to inform the court martial that Lieutenant Coast Guard Price had been granted sick leave by the BDF.
The court martial continues tomorrow when two other witnesses are expected to take the stand. (RB)