Narco head apologises for pile up
From the Courts
October 6, 2006

Narco head apologises for pile up

The top drug cop has apologized to the court for the recent hitches caused to the administration of justice by the delays of test results of drug samples.

On Tuesday, during the sitting of the Serious Offences Court, Assistant Superintendent of Police Michael Charles sought permission to address the court between hearings.{{more}}

The drug squad commander then apologized to Acting Chief Magistrate Sharda Bollers on behalf of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force for the backup of drug related matters and promised that the situation would be rectified by today (Friday).

Charles explained that the issues with the Barbados Forensic Sciences Centre have been rectified but a few more days were needed for the centre to apply for the necessary export licenses enabling them to ship the tested drugs and results to St Vincent.

SEARCHLIGHT’s unearthing of the problems within the system began three weeks ago when Jamaican Egbert Lewis’ case for possession of cocaine came up in the Serious Offences Court.

His attorney Bertram Stapleton was not amused when prosecutors sought an adjournment for the eighth straight month because of the absence of the test results and moved for a dismissal. Acting Chief Magistrate Bollers gave the prosecution until Tuesday, October 10th, to present the evidence.

Investigations revealed that the Barbados Forensic Sciences Centre had received the cocaine samples on July 28 and the results were ready within two weeks but because of $15,000 in arrears owed by Vincentian Police the results were being withheld pending payment. Prior to January the services were free of cost.

The incident sparked statements of outrage and disappointment by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who seemed baffled that such a small sum of money was able to halt the wheels of justice. From every angle the embarrassing looking fruit fell in his garden. He is Minister of National Security, under which the Police Force falls, Minister of Legal Affairs with responsibility for the Courts and Minister of Finance, the controller of the state’s funds.

In the wake of the revelation several meetings were held to rectify the matter.