Supreme Court rejects leave for judicial review application in drug case
The Supreme Court has rejected an application for leave for judicial review filed by Louis Smith, who is jointly charged with Delroy Gayle, Robert Dunbar and Melford Daley for drug trafficking and money laundering.
The decision by the high court lifts the stay that was imposed on the trial of Smith and his three co-accused last September to facilitate the application, paving the way for the criminal proceedings against them to continue in the St James Parish Court.
Last year, Smith, through his attorney Hugh Wildman, made the application seeking declarations from the court that the initiating of criminal proceedings against him was null, void and of no effect, arguing that they were in clear breach of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), 2007.
Smith argued that because the Money Laundering Act (MLA) under which he and his co-accused were charged under was repealed with the passing of the Proceeds of Crime Act in 2007, that it ceased to be law. It was argued that this breached Smith’s right to only be charged with offences recognised by law.
In response, counsel from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who is listed as a respondent in the matter, argued that Smith took too long to make the application, failed to give any good reason or reason at all for the delay, and had no realistic prospect of success.
The prosecutor argued, too, that it would bring the DPP substantial hardship if a stay of the proceedings was granted.
In the ruling handed down on Thursday, Justice Simone Wolfe-Reece ruled against Smith, saying, “It appears that this is an exercise to use the Supreme Court’s supervisory powers an ‘appellate Court’ while the matter is in the middle of the trial that is before the parish court, and this court deems this approach to be inappropriate.”
The high court judge agreed with the office of the DPP view that the application was too delayed.
“In the circumstance, the delay of six years is manifestly excessive and failure to offer a reason for the delay only exacerbates the situation,” said Wolfe-Reece in the judgment seen by The Gleaner.
She also examined whether or not the application would have a realistic prospect of success, concluding that Smith was rightly charged as the offences were allegedly committed when the MLA was in effect and so his application would not have a realistic prospect of success.
Further, Wolfe-Reece concluded that an appeal could be sought at the end of the trial, if Smith is convicted.
Last year before the stay came into effect, convicted drug smuggler Christopher Drummond, who is currently serving a 27-year prison sentence in the United States, was given the opportunity to testify against the men.
During his testimony, he told the court that he had worked in a cocaine-trafficking operation with Gayle and Dunbar.
The allegations are that Gayle, Dunbar, Smith, and Daley were involved in drug trafficking between Jamaica and the United States between 1999 and 2005.