Soca star Machel Montano seeking to overturn conviction
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Soca star Machel Montano will return to court on April 26 as he seeks to overturn a conviction, on assault charges four years ago.
Montano, along with songwriter Kernel Roberts, had been convicted in December 2012 for assaulting four people during an incident outside a Port of Spain nightclub.
Montano was ordered to pay compensation totalling TT$13,500 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) and fines totalling TT$13,700, while Roberts was ordered to pay compensation totalling TT$11,000 and fines totalling TT$13,000.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal acceded to a request by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) George Busby, “in the interest of justice”, to obtain the reasons of Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor, who on December 10, 2012, found Montano and Roberts guilty of assaulting the four people outside the nightclub on April 26, 2007.
But the attorneys representing the two entertainers argued against the move by Busby, saying not only were they surprised that efforts had been made by the prosecution to do so, without notifying them, but also that Baboolal-Gafoor has since retired from the bench and her judicial authority had ended.
Montano’s attorney Jagdeo Singh questioned the magistrate’s jurisdiction “after such an inordinately long period” to give her reasons, warning that to do so would be contrary to justice and judicial accountability and could lead to reasons being tailored around the grounds of appeal.
He said the statutory allowance for the provision of reasons by a magistrate was 60 days.
For his part, Roberts’ attorney, Keith Scotland, also relied on the Canadian authority provided by Singh to argue that the time between the magistrate’s decision to convict his client and the appeal was inordinately long. He also complained that his client, as a result of his conviction, was unable to travel to United States territories to perform and this has severely hampered his earning capacity.