From the Courts
September 27, 2016
Bacchus-Baptiste never asked me to recuse myself – Magistrate Pompey

Magistrate at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court Bertie Pompey is adamant that he was not intimidated by lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste into recusing himself from hear­ing a case involving Nice Radio’s (96.7 FM) managing director, Douglas ‘Dougie’ DeFreitas.{{more}}

Earlier this year, when DeFreitas appeared before Pompey, the magistrate stood down from hearing the matter, stating that he currently has another matter in the civil court against the radio station boss.

However, in last Tuesday’s edition of SEARCHLIGHT’, the opinion column ‘The Week That Was’ stated: “Bertie Pompey has been intimidated by Bacchus-Baptiste’s hot air”.

When SEARCHLIGHT spoke to the magistrate on Friday, he said what was said in the column is “absolutely incorrect”.

“Ms Bacchus-Baptiste was not in court on the very first occasion when Dougie DeFreitas appeared in court; I think it was Mr Israel Bruce who really appeared on her behalf. I took the initiative on my own to recuse myself then and there because I said I have a matter pending in the High Court in the civil jurisdiction and I think that in the interest of justice I did the right thing,” said Pompey.

Following Pompey’s recusal, nine additional charges were brought against DeFreitas. Pompey read the charges to the court, but reminded DeFreitas that the matter had been transferred to the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court.

“Ms Bacchus-Browne … came in late when I was reading the charges and I informed the court that I will recuse myself from these matters… Ms Bacchus has never ever asked me to recuse myself,” he asserted.

“Justice must be seen to be done,” Pompey said adding that the public must not be led to believe that he has prejudice against DeFreitas because of their matter in the civil court.

The magistrate added that he also did not want the matter to end up at the Court of Appeal.

“If my matter had finished… nothing could’ve stopped me from hearing the matter really, so it isn’t that I’m afraid of Kay Bacchus. I don’t have anything to be fearful of or to be intimidated about,” he said.

However, Pompey has also recused himself in a case involving politician Benjamin Exeter, whom Bacchus-Baptiste also represents.

The magistrate told SEARCHLIGHT that when Bacchus-Baptiste asked him to recuse himself in that matter he agreed and gave the lawyer the benefit of the doubt when she cited areas in which he might be prejudiced.

“I said okay. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, let her go to another court, but I could’ve deal with the matter without any prejudice,” he said.

“I don’t have any grudges against the defendant in that matter and I strive to be fair, impartial, dispassionate, everything, objective, neutral in all that I do.”

The defendants and witnesses in the case against Benjamin Exeter are all police officers, and defence attorneys had argued that Pompey, a former deputy Commissioner of Police, might still be thinking like a police officer rather than as a magistrate.

Pompey, however, has dismissed this perspective, saying that he had not been a police officer for over five years. (AS)