Cop loses reinstatement bid
Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
A policeman who was dismissed from the force for disciplinary charges, which included using threatening words and refusing to pay a lawful debt of $4,000 to the operator of a betting shop, has lost his bid in the Court of Appeal to be reinstated in the force.
Acting Corporal George Anthony Lawrence, who was stationed at the Ulster Spring Police Station, faced five disciplinary charges which arose out of incidents occurring from 1997 to 1998.
A court of enquiry investigated the charges against him and found that four of the five charges had been proven.
The four charges included threatening to shoot another policeman because he was a news carrier; leaving his post without permission or being properly relieved; refusing to pay a lawful debt of $4,000 to Olga Hosue, operator of Track Price Plus in Falmouth, Trelawny; using filthy language to Olga Hosue.
The commissioner of police wrote to Lawrence in July 2001 informing him of his dismissal with effect the following month.
Lawrence took the issue to the Judicial Review Court seeking orders to quash the commissioner's decision and to get an order to compel his reinstatement. He claimed that he was not given a fair hearing or any hearing at all by the court of enquiry or the commissioner of police as there was no evidence to support the charges. The court dismissed the motion.
He appealed the court's ruling and defence attorney-at-law Barry Frankson argued in the Court of Appeal that the commissioner failed to observe the principles of natural justice in that the appointment of the disciplinary tribunal and the appellant's dismissal were contrary to the provisions of the Police Service Regulations. Frankson said the offences were minor and did not justify dismissal.
Government lawyer Curtis Cochrane, who represented the commissioner and the attorney general, argued that Lawrence received advance notice of the charges which were laid against him and submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court of enquiry and was afforded representation. Cochrane said Lawrence was afforded a fair hearing.
The Court of Appeal held that although some of the offences were minor, the charge relating to the threat to shoot a colleague cop could not be brushed aside.
"In all the circumstances, while this court cannot say that it would have arrived at the same conclusion as the court of enquiry, it equally cannot say that the exercise of the discretion was unreasonable," the court said.