Court Stays matter in which Adrianna King is accused of Obstruction of PM Gonsalves
From the Courts, News
May 31, 2024

Court Stays matter in which Adrianna King is accused of Obstruction of PM Gonsalves

The lawyer who represented Adriana King in a case where she was charged for obstructing the Prime Minister entering Parliament was “fairly confident” that the court would have stayed the matter, as she felt that “any reasonable, independent magistrate would have upheld the submissions.”

Adriana King appeared at the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate, John Ballah on Tuesday May 28, 2024, where the matter she was charged with was stayed. This means that the matter is in a state of suspension and is therefore still on the books, SEARCHLIGHT was advised.

King was charged that on August 5, 2021, at Kingstown, being a stranger with intent to commit an offence, obstructed Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and member of the House of Assembly from coming to the precincts of the House of Assembly.

“First of all, the matter has been going on for over two years, and the guidelines from the Magistrate’s Court stipulates that these matters should be concluded within six months, or six months is the outside limit. This is well over that,” King’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste told SEARCHLIGHT on May 28, 2024, adding that on that ground alone, the matter should have been stayed.

Bacchus-Baptiste said that these adjournments occurred because witnesses were not present. She said also that she had matters in the High Court, other counsel for the defence was frequently out of state, and the prosecution was not ready as they kept amending the charge.

“They were clearly not ready because they amended the charge substantially in October last year; substantially, that altered the character of the charge, a different statute and different circumstances,” she added.

When King first appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court to answer to the charge in 2021, the charge read that she obstructed Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves from proceeding to the House of Assembly.

Bacchus-Baptiste said that this charge was bound to fail as it was badly drafted so she was not surprised with the amendment. However, when the charge was amended, she said that the error was still not corrected.

When King re-appeared before the court, the charge amended charge read ‘the attempted obstruction’ of the Prime Minister; and on October 25,2023, when King appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate John Ballah to begin her trial, a third amendment was made to the charge.

Bacchus-Baptiste said that a further delay was caused because there was no magistrate presiding at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court for some time.

She concluded that King was prejudiced for having to wait for a”simple matter” to be heard, and was on half-pay while the matter was before the court.

However, when Bacchus-Baptiste raised these points before Magistrate Ballah at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court in October 2023, Prosecutor Renrick Cato rebutted that all the adjournments which occurred in this matter had not always been the fault of the prosecution.

Cato said that the defence had submitted a number of letters requesting adjournments as well.

Despite this, Bacchus-Baptiste said that she felt that “any reasonable, independent magistrate would have upheld the submissions,” that were made by the defence.
“Even though the ruling took a little long to come, I was not so anxious. I felt it’s better the magistrate takes his time and write a good decision than rush and give an answer…so I was fairly confident, and I am now satisfied.”

Bacchus-Baptiste said that the crux of the defence argument was “delay, abuse of process, and prosecutorial misconduct.”

She said that Magistrate Ballah did not agree with the defence on the prosecutorial misconduct, but agreed with her on the delay and abuse of process.

“The magistrate made a good decision, I’m very happy that he upheld our submissions.”

Bacchus-Baptiste maintained it is a pity that King had to wait for so long for a simple matter that should have been concluded within six months where the maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $1500 or six months imprisonment.

“…and in the meantime she was deprived of a living. She was on half pay. It is really sad that a citizen who was exercising her constitutional rights to demonstrate got herself into this trouble.”