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…says DPP, Prosecution had several opportunities to withdraw case against him but did not
The attorneys representing Colin Bailey – the ex-policeman who was freed of a murder charge after spending close to six years on remand – are calling for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to be launched in to the operations of the prosecutorial arm of the State in light of concerns that citizens are being charged, committed and indicted in the absence of evidence.
Attorneys-at-Law Ronald Daniels and Konyo Sandiford issued the call on Monday, October 18, 2021 as they sat along their client, Colin Bailey, during a press conference at the Daphne Rogers Building.
“We are calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the prosecutorial arm of the State with respect to the incarceration, detention and the prosecution of persons especially in instances when there is no evidence against those persons…We’re calling also for an inquiry into how many other persons, past and present, may have suffered similar fate that Mr. Bailey has suffered,” Attorney Daniels told the press.
The call comes days after High Court Judge, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow said “there is something fundamentally wrong with a justice system when a citizen can be charged, committed and indicted when there is no evidence connecting the citizen with the commission of the offence.”
At the time, Justice Barlow was delivering her ruling in the Colin Bailey Case. Ahead of the ruling, the prosecution conceded that from the inception there was never any evidence upon which to charge Bailey for the murder of his reputed wife, Sirmattie Ramnaress.
Daniels said the Guyana Bar Association has been written on the matter. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Attorney General’s Chambers are also expected to be written on the need for an inquiry into the operations of the prosecutorial arm of the State.
Attorney Sandiford, a former State Prosecutor, told reporters that there appears to be a trend in which persons are charged in the absence of evidence on the basis that the Court should decide whether they are guilty or not.
“We are calling into question the position of any judicial officer, any police officer, any person that is discharging functions on behalf of the State to say, proffer the charge and let the court decide; let the magistrate decide; let the judge decide, that is the position we are challenging,” Sandiford said.
She submitted that if there is no evidence, then there ought to be no charge instituted against an individual accused of committing a crime.
“…It is not what we know, it is what we can prove” Sandiford said while noting that in the absence of evidence, the investigation into the case should continue until the evidence is acquired.
“It makes no sense having 10,000 matters in the judicial system and you know that there is no admissible evidence in that matter to substantiate the charge. It would make better sense economically and socially for you to proffer charges where you have evidence,” the Attorney reasoned.
Sandiford said based on the records of court, Bailey is the fourth defendant in four months, who has been freed of a charge after it was found that there was no evidence.
Sandiford, while echoing sentiments of the High Court, said the constitutional body tasked with preferring lawful indictments following lawful committals has failed Bailey.
“This is a case where a citizen of this country has been put in this position because the body tasked with ensuring that a person is only before if there is evidence before the court, linking him to the commission of the offence did not thoroughly peruse the material,” Sandiford said as she quoted a section of Justice Barlow’s ruling in the Colin Bailey Case.
She pointed out that when a person is charged with murder, as was the case of Bailey in February 2016, there is no bail. It was explained that the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) in the Magistrate’s Court can take months and even years before the defendant is committed to the High Court.
Sandiford warned that should the trend continue Guyanese will continue to see no case submissions being upheld because of the lack of admissible evidence. “I was not there, you members of the public, you were not there, how do we know that this person is guilty or not? The litmus test is our judicial system and the processes in our judicial system,” she posited, while noting that the current system that exists includes preparation of a file by police investigators, inclusive of evidence and statements from witnesses, which is then sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for advice.
“No police officer proffers a murder charge before getting legal advice…there will always be advise from the DPP before a murder charge is proffered,” she emphasized.
Sandiford said even after Bailey’s case was committed to the High Court, both the DPP and Prosecution had numerous opportunities to not only review the case but to withdraw it given the lack of evidence against him, but they did not.
“We got pass the charge, we still had time to check it, we got pass the magistrate’s level we still had time to check it and even up to the date of the trial there was an opportunity to noll prossed the matter; what is a noll prossed? To concede as judicial officers of the state…to do the right thing and say we are going to withdraw this indictment, and that did not happen…” Sandiford reasoned.
For his part, Bailey told the press that he will be taking legal actions against the State for wrongful detention. Bailey was accused of killing his wife in August 2013, however, he charged in February 2016 – more than five years later, he was freed of the charge due to lack of evidence