Barbados High Court Judge: Public execution murders and witnesses won’t testify, undermining courts.

When the police cannot or will not protect witnesses, can we expect anything else?

High court Justice Randall Worrell (above) is worried about a trend that is undermining our court system and threatening the very fabric of our society: after witnessing their friends murdered on the street in execution-style killings, witnesses don’t want to testify to the point that they are changing their stories or running off the island.

Well, do ya think? Consider that most of the time when the police are called, they take their own sweet time to arrive. A month or so ago there was a gun battle at a football match in Boscobel and the police never arrived for almost an hour! At the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary shots were fired the police never came at all.

“where persons in serious matters . . . have been cut down like fowls for absolutely no reason at all and where young persons, young men in particular, see what was going on; [they] watched their peers being executed and gave statements to police indicating what they have seen and then . . . go to the Magistrates’ Court and say something different and then come to the High Court and say something completely different”.

…Justice Randall Worrell

In a climate of fear, changing the law won’t help

According to the Judge and a senior prosecutor, the whole thing can be solved by changing the law to force witnesses to testify. Barbados should have such a law that is true, but the Judge and prosecutor are fooling themselves if they really believe that lack of a law is the root of this problem.

After having seen a friend executed, any witness will shut up if they don’t believe that the police and the system will protect them from the same fate.

How can we trust the police to protect witnesses if they couldn’t even protect former Chief of Immigration from being assassinated in his own home in front of his family? In the three years since the execution-style murder of Kenrick Hutson, the Royal Barbados Police Force haven’t been able to find the killer. If they couldn’t protect former Police Superintendant Kenrick Hutson from being murdered, and can’t find out who killed one of their own, what are we ordinary folks to think?

We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it: Our main product and driver of our economy is not tourism: it is Barbados as a SAFE tourism destination. The police are the main guardians of our tourism based economy. Barbados is losing the crime battle and therefore our tourism based economy is in jeopardy, thanks to decades of under-funding of the Royal Barbados Police Force.

Court Cry

(Read the original artcle at the Nation: Court Cry)

A HIGH COURT judge and a senior prosecutor have blasted the recent trend of eyewitnesses changing their tunes at the High Court after giving detailed statements to police and at the Magistrates’ Court.

As a result, Justice Randall Worrell wants prosecutors in the Magistrates’ Courts to “redouble their efforts” in extracting evidence from problem witnesses.

The judge stated that maybe it was time that witnesses, like accused, were bound over to attend the High Court with some form of surety.

The latest incident has led to the prosecution having to discontinue a murder case against one man because eyewitnesses either said they had lied at the Magistrates’ Court or that police and even the magistrate had threatened them to testify. One witness even skipped the island during the trial.

The former murder accused is Anderson Orlando Phillips, 32, of Church Village, St Philip, who had been accused of murdering 29-year-old Fabian Moore, formerly of Bushy Park, St Philip, on February 1, 2005.

Principal Crown Counsel Wanda Blair explained that in light of a ruling on legal arguments and after consulting the Director of Public Prosecutions, she was discontinuing the case against Phillips.

However, she noted the Evidence Act as it related to hostile witnesses, needed to be changed.

“There are some things that occurred in this case that I think are unsavoury, and it is a trend that is developing that I think it is time certain steps be taken to change the Evidence Act,” Blair said.

She explained that there were several eyewitnesses “who gave detailed statements” as to what they saw when Moore was killed.

However, by the time those witnesses attended the Magistrates’ Court they had retracted those statements.“And to think that some of them came to this court and, in public, said a magistrate threatened them,” Blair said.

As a result of those accusations, former magistrate Valton Bend, along with court prosecutor Station Sergeant Carrison Henry and attorney Arthur Holder were called during a voir dire.

Justice Worrell, who presided over the trial, noted there was a trend “where persons in serious matters . . . have been cut down like fowls for absolutely no reason at all and where young persons, young men in particular, see what was going on; [they] watched their peers being executed and gave statements to police indicating what they have seen and then . . . go to the Magistrates’ Court and say something different and then come to the High Court and say something completely different”.

“It is a trend,” the judge continued, “which is showing the complete decay of Barbadiansociety, the complete decay of the moral fabric of Barbadian society.

“I think Mrs Blair did her job admirably, but she cannot force witnesses to give evidence,” he said.

In supporting the prosecutor’s call for an amendment to the Evidence Act, the judge said maybe it was time the legal system in Barbados made provisions for what was done in other jurisdictions where the statements, taken on oath, were read into evidence even if the witnesses said something different.

“Those who have ears to hear, one would hope they would hear,” he said.

15 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Police, Tourism

15 responses to “Barbados High Court Judge: Public execution murders and witnesses won’t testify, undermining courts.

  1. The man wiv no name!!

    I lost my confidence in Bajans a long time ago. At this rate, you’ll be rivalling conditions in Jamaica and Trinidad in the not too distant future!

  2. what will they think of next

    Is that what you are hoping for?

  3. Sayed

    Man you people are so damn naive at BFP, who writes the shit you put up anyway?

    This has been happening from times long past. Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, most places, then also in bigger countries.

    The USA has a federal witness protection program. But they aren’t going to put you in it because you saw some street thug get killed. They’ll put you in it when it’s a high profile case and they want your testimony.

    Imagine little Barbados. Where is the Government going to get the money to fund a full time witness protection program?

    I see some problems.

    1. Small island, where to hide? Unless you lock them in a basement and tell them to never go outside
    2. Corruption, someone knows who is being protected and where they are, and unless you have all persons involved of the highest calibre possible, then its bound to get out.
    3. Money, money money.
    4. Money
    5. Money
    6. Man power, who you gonna hire? You already complain that the police take an hour to respond to a shooting, how long would they take now.

    You ever bothered to find the underlying causes of police response times? I’ll give you some hints, because you seem either unwilling or unable to determine these things for yourself, or you seem to just like to spew forth crap because you have a blog and you can.

    Man power, centralized and otherwise, how much is available. Allocation of man power. Allocation of vehicles. Other reports being attended to.

    Man power is self explanatory, but let’s delve a little deeper, did you know that MOST police stations in Barbados operate on a skeleton crew? That is the BARE minimum needed to function. There’s no one left back for emergencies or otherwise. So if when your nice scary shooting happened the police were dealing with an accident, or burglary or other report, they cannot leave that person/report to deal with another.

    One argument against this is that rbpf are state police with jurisdiction across the island, so a patrol can come from anywhere. Let’s examine some possible scenarios.

    It’s just a chain reaction.. If a patrol isn’t available from one station to tend to a report, one might be called depending on the urgency from another area, then who is left to fill the void made when the one from the other area comes to help? So the chain reaction goes down the line, and all available resources at any one time can be in full use, mainly because said resources are so limited and stretched that they will be operating at max use more often than not.

    Let’s say per shift at a station you have 1 supervisor and 3 officers. One is sick, one is on vacation. That leaves two in all. Skeleton crews, no one to fill the void for people on vacation.

    The force in 1996 has 1200 officers roughly. That is 15 years ago. Now with increasing immigrant population, more sophisticated crimes, more crime, more everything, more tourism, the force has roughly 1400. An increase of 200 from 1996, are you seeing the disparity yet?

    The force to police barbados effectively is recommended to have 2000 personnel. Bahamas has nearly 3000 officers and we are roughly equivelant in population size taking into account documented and undocumented immigrants. So we have 1450 or so officers, that sounds good, then you have senior ranks, who are not assigned to stations to respond to reports so

    -70
    station sergeants do not respond to reports
    – 50
    detectives do not respond to call for service initially
    -200
    sick leave
    -100
    vacation
    -100
    training
    -50
    miscellaneous
    -50
    special departments
    -200

    I didn’t add it up, but that leaves what? 200-300 officers to serve?

    Nice.

    You should use your blog and your time to investigate what is really happening, not stare at something and assume that it is so because people are lazy or do not want to work or because you don’t have good police.
    The force is legendary considering the conditions, pay, politics that they have to operate under, to still perform at all is amazing and ordinary individuals quit in the face of less challenges.

  4. naysaywat

    BFP said “Barbados is losing the crime battle and therefore our tourism based economy is in jeopardy, thanks to decades of under-funding of the Royal Barbados Police Force.”

    That says it right there. BFP puts it on the policitians who keep the police on a shoestring. Right on!

    Sayed didn’t read until the end of the artticle. All he says would be fixed with money budget, more officers. BFP said it right.

  5. vancet

    ONe wOrD
    Prioritize!!!!

  6. Bajan Leadpipe

    When change threatens to bring about “the complete decay of the moral fabric of Barbadian society”, such change MUST be changed! The key components/catalysis of such change must be investigated and addressed. Changed!

    How about a Nationwide Community Campaign, involving all levels of our society to, “Take Back Barbados”

    As a start, how about returning to a true “day of rest” when we all paused to rest, refresh and renew our spirits. Yes, with a little Spirits too. We had such a day before and Barbados was not a homogenous society back then.

    Next, how about reinforcing, the age old tenet “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”…explained and discussed in very practical terms.

    For those who chose to ignore the soundness of the tenet and cause pain, they must be made to feel the pain they cause others…. THERE COMES A TIME WHEN ONE MUST FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE!

    Just a few thoughts…..

  7. Capt. Nobody

    Sayed has a very realistic view of the situation. Plus consider that most of Police Force is concentrated around B’town….this is why if anything happening to you in the country side, St. Philip in primis, you have to deal with the situation by yourself, you are alone!! Boscobel docet…

  8. BFP

    Sayed, the point is that our police and judicial system are so ineffective that the crooks don’t fear the police or getting caught. Your argument is that nothing can be done. We say there is lots that could be done if the police budget was only realistic for the times and the population of this country.

  9. Sue

    I think that it’s the whole system top to bottom to change. Yes we need more police for sure but more police and no proper training or funding won’t change a thing. People decide to be witnesses because they believe that what was done was wrong, that the moral side, but they would prefer to be safe than to say so, that’s the survivor instinct which most people have. Spend some money on the force and make it happen!

    Secondly- witness statements should be entered into evidence regardless. Protecting the society from those who take liberty in taking the life of others is more important. So what if he does it again because he KNOWS no one will talk. Sounds like Columbia? They just killed the new chief of police for that!

  10. The man wiv no name!!

    ‘WWTHON’, no, that isn’t my wish for Bim. I no longer have wishes (hopes and ambitions) for Bim and Barbadians. I used to, years ago, when I had respect for the majority of those people. Nowadays, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of them for whom I’ve any respect at all and so, ‘No, that isn’t my wish for them. I am apathetic towards them and so disappointed in them. There’s more to life than materialism!

  11. Sayed

    BFP, I applaud you for bringing attention to certain issues, but the cynic in me also goes “What’s the point?” It’s not that I would not jump at the first opportunity to change something. But a certain type of people are always in power and will always be in power, it’s just the way the brother hood goes. You should be able to pick from that statement.

    The people with the ideas and the real solutions are not in a position to put them into motion.

    That being said there have been times in our worlds history where one man has made a difference, and there are many examples through out to quote from.

    The majority of people in Barbados will never know the truth behind things, or why things are the way they are. And they aren’t likely to know it very soon either. And if they did, I am unsure what action they would take.

    I can tell you too that one of the reasons for skeleton crews at stations is the mentality that if you aren’t physically doing something you are not working. Meaning that if they do not want three vehicles on patrol, because only two might be on call at one time, what’s the other one doing? To me it would be running a crime prevention route, until called to respond to a report.

    But that’s not how people see it, they see it as doing nothing and hence, not needed. That’s why the skeleton crew is there. The society has changed and with it many new challenges for policing, the police have developed in some ways and some methods, but an over all reform and approach to how crime is prevented and how its dealt with then detected is needed.

  12. Mobertthegreat

    ”The former murder accused is Anderson Orlando Phillips, 32, of Church Village, St Philip”

    Church Village? Church Village? That should be clear then as to why the witness backed down! That should also be a clue bearing in mind that another resident of THAT area has never, after years being a shithead drug dealer that everyone konows about, been locked up and the keys thown away.

    But then, he is obviously merely a front man for the big guys and they keep him free to sell their shit.

    Good Luck!

  13. JimBeam

    Does anyone else use BOUNTY paper towels?

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