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.
(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.