ACP Thompson says prosecution delay not fault of police
The Royal Barbados Police Force has put former CLICO chairman Leroy Parris and president Terrence Thornhill on notice that it intends to pursue criminal charges against them, once a long-delayed High Court judicial review gives the green light.
Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for crime Mark Thompson indicated to Barbados TODAY that the only reason criminal proceedings against Parris and Thornhill were not ongoing was because the High Court had ordered a temporary halt three years ago, pending the outcome of a judicial review of the case.
“Officially, those [charges] against Thornhill were stayed, pursuant to a judicial review matter and, as a consequence, it made no sense trying to start the charges against Parris because they are the same charges, so we will have to wait for the outcome of the judicial review matter,” Thompson said.
Asked if he knew whether a date had been set for the judicial review hearing to start, the crime chief responded: “I don’t know if a date has been set but now you have raised it, I think it is in the interest of the Royal Barbados Police Force to check, so I will check.”
The assistant commissioner acknowledged that after such a long wait, people would naturally start speculating.
However, he insisted: “The delay has nothing to do with the police force in terms of the prosecution. We can’t prosecute until we hear the outcome of the judicial review matter.”
The two former top CLICO executives were jointly accused of breaching an August 2009 order by the Supervisor of Insurance that prohibited CLICO International Life (CIL) from selling any new insurance business.
On March 23, 2012, Justice Kaye Goodridge, now a Court of Appeal judge, issued an order to stay the criminal charges, after Thornhill’s attorney, Garth Patterson, Q.C. challenged the allegations, contending that the Insurance Act did not give the Supervisor of Insurance the authority to shut down CLICO by directing the company to stop selling new policies.
The two criminal cases first came up for hearing on April 13, 2012 before then Magistrate Deborah Holder, now Registrar of the Supreme Court, who adjourned them sine die after Patterson revealed that the High Court had ordered the Commissioner of Police not to continue proceedings against Thornhill only.
Patterson also sought the judicial review on behalf of his client. However, because the charges against Thornhill and Parris were similar, the latter also benefitted from the stay and the review.
Parris did not turn up at the magistrate’s court to face his charge but attorney Hal Gollop, Q.C., who along with Michael Yearwood appeared for Parris, apologized and promised “to have him here if necessary”.
When contacted today, Patterson declined to comment.
However, Yearwood told Barbados TODAY it was not for his client to pursue the case but the police who brought it in the first place.