From the Courts
December 15, 2017
Lawyer asks for court to dismiss case against ‘Dougie’

Kay Bacchus-Baptiste has called for the dismissal of the case in which one of her clients is charged in relation to statements made on radio the day following the December 9, 2015 general elections.

Futhermore, she is calling on the prosecution to produce the ballot boxes referred to in the charge against her client.

On December 11, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, on learning that prosecutor, crown counsel Kharim Nelson was out of state, Bacchus-Baptiste asked that magistrate Rickie Burnett dismiss the matter against Douglas DeFreitas, as it had been going on for over a year.

In June, 2016, DeFreitas was charged that at Dorsetshire Hill in St Vincent and the Grenadines and within the First Magisterial District, he did publish a false statement, which was likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace, to wit: “I have just had confirmation that six of the ballots were unsealed and one missing. Six of the ballots were unsealed and one missing. It means that something went on down there in the polling station and we are calling for by-elections by Monday. We want by-election; we don’t want…And I want the leadership to the NDP to find some transportation, get supporters to go down there and to get into place, please and persons who can go on their own, go down there and support Exeter on this matter.”

Then, in August, 2016, DeFreitas was charged with 10 additional charges, relating to statements he allegedly made on his radio station on December 10, 2015.

Last Monday, Bacchus-Baptiste drew to the attention of the magistrate that in a letter dated April 28, 2017, she asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for certain disclosure in relation to ballot boxes which had not been made. According to Bacchus-Baptiste, the case against her client can be easily proven or disproved by having sight of the ballot boxes.

She said some of the charges against her client can be proven by people having pictures of the ballot boxes.

“I understand their reluctance to do that, but they are the ones who brought the charge and put us in this position and I outlined to the DPP what our defence would be and why it is necessary for us to have those ballot boxes so that we could prove that what we said was not untrue.”

The attorney also said she does not understand why, even if the crown counsel is out of state, why someone else did not turn up.

“Even though Mr Nelson is out of state, there are about six or seven people in that office now. They are very, very fortunate, because in my time it was one. Someone should have turned up,” she stated.

Bacchus-Baptiste described the matter as “very serious and urgent.”

On Monday, Magistrate Burnett noted the application, letter and submission of April 28, 2017 and recollected that previously, on September 18, 2016, the matter was called and adjourned because DeFretias was unwell. 

“The matter is still being ventilated in court and I am likely to grant one final adjournment in this matter,” Burnett said.

In consultation with Bacchus-Baptiste, a March 12, 2018 date was settled upon for hearing of the case.

DeFreitas has been charged under Section 64 (1) of the Criminal Code, and if found guilty, would be liable to imprisonment for one year.

Section 64(2), however, says, “It shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (1) if the accused person proves, prior to publication, he took such measures to verify the accuracy of such statement, rumour or report as to lead him reasonably to believe that it was true.”(GHJ)