Blame the system

Sir Richard joins bail debate

One of the most sought-after legal minds in the Caribbean, Barbadian Sir Richard Cheltenham is blaming the already heavily criticized slow judicial process for the apparent frequency with which murder-accused are being granted bail, only to commit other serious offences while out awaiting trial.

While pointing to the 1996 Bail Act that entitles accused persons to bail, including those charged with murder, Sir Richard, a successful criminal attorney, said when a suspect “is rotting” in jail for upwards of six years and his preliminary enquiry has not even started, he was in his right to ask the High Court to release him temporarily.

“There is a new piece of legislation; new in relative terms, where an accused can get bail in exceptional circumstances. What has happened around here in recent times is that the system is so slow, that sometimes, five, six years after a man has been charged for murder, he remains in prison and his preliminary enquiry has not been completed . . . in some instances it has not started. Now that is a very long time,” Sir Richard told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.

“In those circumstances generally the court has said ‘look, unless the prosecution can give us an assurance that this matter can be dealt with, let’s say in the next quarter, I am afraid I would have to consider giving the accused bail,’” added the Queen’s Counsel who recently chaired the Walter Rodney Commission of Enquiry in Guyana.

Sir Richard questioned the public’s perception that murder- accused were frequently being released on bail, noting that it was unusual in Barbados for such persons to commit a second murder.

“What is the frequency with which that has happened? You [are] talking about what, one case? I don’t know . . . where a man is out for murder and then commits a second murder. It can happen, but if you are in prison and five, six years pass and your preliminary enquiry has not started, I think a man is inclined to say ‘look, you have me here on a murder charge and five, six years have passed and my case has not started, do you think that is fair to me?  I want to go before the court and ask for my bail,’” he contended.

However, Sir Richard strongly suggested that the conditions of bail must be set in such a way that the police would be able to closely monitor the accused. The senior lawyer recommended conditions that range from withholding the suspect’s passport and frequent reports to a police station, as often as three times a week, to frequent phone calls so law enforcement officials can track the suspect’s movements.

“The terms should be very strict in my view. If the fellow is on bail, he should hand [in] his passport. He should report to the police every two or three days at different times . . .And when you call in now, they may ask you where you can be found . . . so that the terms could be such that even though you are on bail, even for the offence of murder, you have to call into the station with such frequency and report in person with such frequency that they really have a monitoring system on you,” the Queen’s Counsel advised.

Just last week, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Leacock criticized the practice of granting bail to murder suspects, except in cases involving the elderly of young students with a strong defence.

“I really do not think that bail should be given to murder accused. We don’t necessarily have to review the Bail Act to do that. There will always be discretions, but what we have to do is to get the judges to be less willing to grant bail to persons because what experiences have shown are that it is quite problematic,” Leacock told Barbados TODAY.

“People are out on bail and allegedly committing other serious offences and it is not the first time that it is happening. We will have to review the manner in which the Act is being applied,” he said at the time.

6 Responses to Blame the system

  1. seagul November 3, 2015 at 4:11 am

    In this world of calamity
    Dirty looks and grudges and jealousy
    All these ‘Sirs’ weh abusing dem authority
    Including de judges and jury….
    Why are the poor are only seen to be imprisoned

  2. jrsmith November 3, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Barbados will always have problems, because the whole management structure is a bunch lazy people, appointed not by able to do they jobs, professionally, but because they are members of the ruling party. all you see in Barbados is failure ,failure, bajans with attitudes, there is a majority of people claiming to be in charge , haven’t the faintest idea how to manage.

    People need sacking and finding the right persons to do the jobs, jobs should not be given to bajans because they are bajans, that’s where we are failing continuously. we are supposed to be so educated, where , that’s why we are loosing all businesses in Barbados to foreigners. and topping it all a bunch of fools as politicians. We are gradually reversing into the 50 year back ward step. We are becoming the laughing stock of the region.

    @,Seagul, hail, hail, great shot, why the poor is always the ones ,ending up in prison, because its them and us, the major crime players in Barbados is being protected, because they are above the law, that plays a big, big ,part in a lot of cases , not being prosecuted , and justice is not seems to be done or done

  3. Tony Webster November 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

    @Seagull, and our new poet Laureate: on-target, with a very inconvenient, uncomfortable, truth! But you know where the greatest irony lies?

    I have worked for a bank with branches all over the Caribbean, and witnessed personally over 37 years the transition from Union Jacks, and “Exco” , and ” Legeco” type governance structures, with a Governor holding the reigns. In these years I have met and marveled at how Bajans have spread throughout these islands, and have assumed positions at the very top of commerce, judicature, and society generally. They have all been products of our own society and educational structure…PRE-independence!!. Indeed, we have been greatly blessed with such great minds, right here, those that have led us into our post-colonial circumstances. The people, are virtually, the same ; same brains; same potential. The circumstances, and our national psyche, however, do not have the same expectations, the same discipline; the same determination…to “get the job done”.

    We’re clearly relaxing; tekking it easy; and have no-one to blame…but ourselves. I once sheepishly presented my parents with a school-report which stated “Tony is capable of doing much better” . Should I have blamed my teacher…for speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Or – as I did- just accept the inconvenient truth, and “pull up my socks”?

    Each and every one of us…can do better. Much better.

  4. dave November 3, 2015 at 11:22 am

    “Barbados will always have problems, because the whole management structure is a bunch lazy people, appointed not by able to do they jobs, professionally, but because they are members of the ruling party. all you see in Barbados is failure ,failure, bajans with attitudes, there is a majority of people claiming to be in charge , haven’t the faintest idea how to manage”

    QUOTE FROM J R SMITH -(above)

    The problem is that in order to get things done in Barbados you have to grease somebody’s hands. Barbados is a Bribery and Corruption Hotspot and with the addition and growth of certain ethnic groups in this society -it is becoming even more so. Projects in Barbados do not get off the ground until the Big Boys hands get greased

  5. carson c cadogan November 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Everyone is frustrated with the snail pace of the Justice system in Barbados except the Bureaucrats who are tasked with administering it. And its not simply Murder cases it is all cases, right across the board. Bajans have problems with all levels of the Justice system. The Court Marshalls, dishonest Lawyers, the the registrar, Magistrates, Judges, the Police, long delays with the simplest of matters you name it and Bajans have had it. But nothing is improving only getting worse.

  6. jrsmith November 3, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    @, Carson,C,C, hail , hail, to add ,we like or lump it. failure to Barbados LTD, which we are all paying for.


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