Cops abusing court  system – Connell
August 14, 2015
Cops abusing court system – Connell

by Ari Shaw

A prominent lawyer here considers the frequent adjournment of cases before the court because of the unavailability of the police officers involved in the matter an abuse of the system.

On Tuesday, August 4 at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, when his {{more}}client’s case was adjourned for the fourth time, Grant Connell made his displeasure known.

“You can’t abuse people so,” he stated loudly.

Connell’s client, Micheal Dabreo, who now has to return to court today, was charged that on May 30, he assaulted Stefano Billingy of Largo Height with intent to commit an offence of wounding.

Dabreo has had his matter adjourned on four different occasions — June 1, June 16, July14, and on August 4, when the prosecution requested another adjournment, stating that the virtual complainant, who is a police officer, was out of state.

As a result Dabreo was ordered to hand over his travel documents, which affected travel plans he had made.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT last week, Connell said this is a recurrent problem he has with the police in terms of their unjustified adjournments.

“They charge, then seem to begin their investigations after… You should put your case together, then charge a man,” he stated.

Additionally, he stressed that the police should get their house in order. He said he believes that after an adjournment is granted, police officers have ample time to properly build their case. It is also his belief that his client is not a flight risk because of the fact that he could have already fled the jurisdiction after being granted bail.

“You have to put police back in their straight jacket… You have to make them comply,” said Connell, who strongly believes that the adjournments cause a backlog of cases in the court.

He said it is unfair to the accused who has to go through the process of seeking legal counsel and fulfilling bail conditions just to be dragged into court repeatedly.

“Why do all that?” he asked, then added, “You are abusing the system by having them continuously coming to court on allegations.”

Senior prosectuor Adolphus Delpesche, however, does not agree with Connell that the adjournments are unjustified, although during the same court hearing at which Connell protested, he was heard scolding the prosecuting officer saying “you have to do better than that.”

Delpesche believes that the excuses given are indeed valid and informed SEARCHLIGHT that on police officers’ vacation forms, they are required to say, before the leave is approved, if they have issues pending in court.

He also said in order to avoid adjournments he should be informed and made aware of these vacation applications in order to inform the relevant authorities.

Connell, however, stressed that the adjournments are no fault of the magistrate, who has to balance the scales of justice. He placed the blame on the police officers, who he said are frustrating the system and the accused. He said the absence of the officers, is only announced on the day of the case or even during the hearing.

The lawyer suggested a system in which an officer who is scheduled to come to court should have his schedule adjusted. “For example, if he is scheduled to go on a raid at 3 a.m. and has a case 9 a.m., he should be replaced on that raid.

“The court takes second place and the respect for the court is dropping…you have to give court priority,” he stressed.

Connell also said when foreigners are involved, the delay leaves a bad taste of St Vincent and the Grenadines in their mouths.