Rick’s Cafe fin controller freed; manager heads to trial
Financial controller Conroy Barrett, one of the two employees of the Negril-based Rick’s Cafe Sports Bar who were charged in relation to the Mocha Fest event, which was staged at the location in contravention of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), along with other breaches, is now a free man.
Barrett, who was charged with failing to have a spirit and an amusement licence for the venue, which is quite popular with both visitors to the island and locals, was freed after the prosecution conceded that based on the statement from the police, the charges against him could not be substantiated.
According to a source close to Rick’s Cafe, the operators were taken by complete surprise when Barrett was charged.
“It was a mystery to me when he was charged as he basically had nothing to do with the staging of the party,” the source said. “I know he was not pleased about being charged, so he must be happy that this unfortunate chapter of his life is now behind him.”
Attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie, who represented Barrett, said that by virtue of his role as financial controller, his client should not have been charged for the breaches he was brought before the court for.
However, while Barrett is now free, the case against the other Rick’s Cafe employee Thomas Martin, a manager at the establishment, is set to continue as he has been ordered to return to court on September 10.
Incomplete case file
Like Barrett, Martin is facing charges of failing to have a spirit and an amusement licence alongside breaching the DRMA.
The court heard that his case file was incomplete but should be finished by the next court date.
He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The controversial Mocha Fest series of parties, which were staged at the Rick’s Cafe over eight days in May, caused a major national outcry after videos surfaced showing scantily dressed revellers having a ball at the location, in disregard of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
On learning that the event was government-sanctioned, several local promoters and entertainers took the Government to task on social media, claiming that a double standard was at play. In fact, some persons are of the view that the subsequent opening up of the local entertainment sector was as a result of that pressure.
In addition, a series of actions taken against Rick’s Cafe to include the revoking of its COVID-19 compliance certification, and the charges against Barrett and Martin, was believed to have been spawned by the public pressure.