The administration of the Barbados Police Service (BPS) is looking into a situation where the High Court dismissed the murder charge against an accused man after it found that his constitutional right to an attorney-at-law had been breached during police investigations.
Commissioner of Police (COP) Richard Boyce promised on Friday that the necessary action would be taken if any of the officers are found culpable after an internal probe.
Late last month when Shamar Omar Ishmael of 1st Avenue Jackson, St Michael appeared before Madam Justice Pamela Beckles charged with the October 7, 2016 murder of 34-year-old Kelvin Brewster, of Arsenal Playing Field Road, Jackson, St Michael, his defence attorney-at-law Safiya Moore contended that officers were in breach of the Evidence Act.
Moore argued that the police officers were specifically in breach of Ishmael’s constitutional right to an attorney, when they failed to allow his lawyer who had come to see him at the police station do so.
Justice Beckles stated that fact was not disputed and was, in fact, supported by the station log which recorded that the accused’s attorney was at the police station for less than ten minutes while his client was there but did not see him.
“Police officers must understand and appreciate an accused’s right to have access to counsel whilst he is in custody and facilitate that contact with counsel in a timely fashion and not to do anything to impede that access,” she said.
“The failure of the police officers to inform the accused that an attorney had arrived at the police station to see him and communicate with him was very serious. This failure, in my opinion, had a significant impact on the accused’s constitutional right to counsel.
“The seriousness of the police officer’s failure, in this case, points very strongly towards exclusion of written and oral statements allegedly made by the accused in this case. The written and oral statements are therefore excluded from evidence in this trial,” she said before calling the jury back into the court.
The 12 jurors, who had been sworn in but heard no witness testimonies, were then instructed to return a not guilty verdict against Ishmael.