Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Cops freed of unlawful wounding due to hurdles of death and ‘fear’

Published:Monday | May 29, 2023 | 12:10 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Two policemen, who reportedly battered two detainees with a baton nine years ago, were freed Friday of unlawful wounding charges in the St Ann’s Bay Parish Court.

Constables Jermaine Holmes and Gary Barrett walked free on two counts of the charges each after the prosecution offered no evidence against them while admitting to the court that it was not in a position to successfully mount a case.

The constables, who were stationed at the St Ann’s Bay Police Station, were arrested and charged in September 2021, following an investigation by the Independent Commission of Investigations and a ruling from the director of public prosecution.

Allegations were that, on February 14, 2016, the two policemen and others assaulted the two complainants who were in lock-ups at the St Ann’s Bay Police Station.

The two men were reportedly beaten with batons while being ordered out of their cell by Holmes and Barrett.

The men were taken to the St Ann’s Bay Hospital where they were treated after reportedly sustaining wounds.

Says cop threatened to shoot him

One of the complainants claimed that, a day before the incident and after they had an argument, Holmes threatened to shoot him when he was released.

On the day of the alleged incident, the complainant claimed that, after the verbal spat with Holmes, the latter and four other officers came to his cell and told him he was being transferred. The complainant said that, when he refused, the two officers beat him all over his body with the baton, resulting in his losing consciousness.

However, Holmes, in his statement, said the policemen were attacked by the two detainees when they refused to move to another cell. He claimed the two detainees punched and kicked them while attacking them with a bottle of water and they had to use the baton to subdue them.

The prosecution was forced to drop the case after an application to have one of the complainants testify via video link was refused by the judge and its failure to overcome several hurdles which presented themselves after the second complainant died from injuries received in an unrelated matter.

After several non-appearances by one of the complainants, the prosecution in November 2022 made an application for the complainant to give his testimony remotely, citing fear, but this was challenged by attorney-at-law Courtney Rowe who argued that the complainant was simply not interested in attending the matter.

Parish Judge Larona Montague-Williams refused the application.

Consequently, the prosecution had no choice, but to offer no evidence.

By the time the matter reached trial, the court learned that the other complainant had died. The prosecution, as a result, sought to tender the statement of the now deceased complainant into evidence by virtue of Section 31 of the Evidence Act, but encountered objection from Rowe.

Statements were then collected in an effort to conduct a voir dire (a preliminary examination of a witness) , however, on the day of the hearing, the witnesses were absent. The Crown’s independent witness also failed to show up.

Owing to those difficulties, the prosecution offered no evidence against the two policemen on the remaining count.

Attorney-at-law John Jacob also represented the accused lawmen.