From the Courts
January 5, 2018
Lawyer cries injustice, as ‘Cocoa’ sent to High Court for sentencing

Sentencing for Colin ‘Cocoa’ David will take place at the High Court, despite his lawyer bristling at what he believes to be an injustice, saying, “this is prosecution, not persecution”.

David had previously pleaded not guilty to having in his possession on May 5, 2017, one 9 mm pistol and 36 rounds of live 9 mm ammunition without a licence.

During David’s trial, Station Sergeant Bailey, head of the police party which made the arrest, told of the operation, which took place on May 5, based on information that had been received.

The sergeant stated that the police had approached the area of Nelson Block in Kingstown, when, in a vacant plot of land, they witnessed a vehicle idling. The four officers approached the vehicle with stealth and weapons drawn, and, still some distance away from the vehicle, the police officer said that he saw the left back door open and a hand with a black glove, drop a gun and two ammunition magazines.

Bailey then said he shouted ‘gun’ twice and then ‘police’ repeatedly, before shouting instructions to those inside the vehicle.

The supposedly lone occupant of the back was brought around to the sergeant, who said he was wearing a white T-shirt around his face, covering everything but his eyes and had black gloves on his hands. When the shirt was removed, it was said to have revealed the defendant, whom Bailey knew very well as Colin ‘Cocoa’ David, and who then reportedly said, “somebody set me up, boy.”

The trial took place over a number of weeks and in itself had a few inconsistencies arise in the details. Lawyer for the defence Grant Connell made a no case submission after the statements of the officers differed in that one saw a hand with black gloves throw the gun out of the window and the other under the door. However, this had failed on the premise that this difference was not enough to sway the case, which prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche had said was “strong like the rock of Gibraltar.”

Last Thursday, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias of the Serious Offences Court found David to be guilty, saying, “the prosecution has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt” and that key evidence was sufficiently backed up by the witnesses in the prosecution’s case.

It was at this point that Delplesche rose to ask that under the Criminal Procedure Code, David be committed to the High Court for sentencing, considering the “aggravating features” present, such as the car having a false licence plate and the number of bullets found in the magazines.

Connell was not pleased at the move, which he immediately said would take justice to the grave. He described it as a “prosecution boomerang” and further as “legal gymnastics to the detriment of the defendant,” as the case had been in the process of going to the High Court, but had been brought back down to the Serious Offences Court in the end.

“For nine months this case hung over the defendant’s neck,” he said, further noting that the system cannot be used in that manner, even if newspaper articles paint David as a hardened criminal. “Justice will go to the grave if you entertain that,” he repeated.

The next day, Friday, December 29, the Chief Magistrate upheld the prosecution’s submission and David will go to the High Court for sentencing. The High Court has a maximum capacity for sentencing of 20 years in this case, as opposed to the Serious Offences Court, which can only sentence an individual to a maximum of seven years in jail.