Defence attorney and prosecutor square off
Prominent criminal attorney Andrew Pilgrim, QC and police prosecutor Sergeant Neville Watson were Thursday locked in a verbal tussle over a bail application in a case involving more than half million dollars’ worth of cannabis.
However, Magistrate Douglas Frederick’s ruling following the more than 40-minute argument broke the deadlock – at least until the next court date.
Pilgrim is representing Copeland Arindale Browne, 40, of 2B Brecon Road, Grazettes Housing Area, St Michael who is charged along with Vincentian All-Dain Allendee Bristol for possession of 168 kilos of cannabis worth $675 500.
They were allegedly found with the substance within the territorial waters of Barbados on March 14 this year.
The two have been on remand at HMP Dodds since April.
At today’s court appearance, Sergeant Watson told the court that the Crown was not yet ready to proceed and was requesting another adjournment in the matter.
But Pilgrim, who appeared in association with attorney Kamisha Benjamin, argued that the men remained locked up in the meantime.
“The only thing that the Crown has been clinging to . . . is that the quantity is large and that the file is going to be ready,” he said, adding that in today’s submission, the prosecutor gave no indication as to the readiness of the said file.
“It seems to me that the Crown just gets up and as a matter of routine says ‘more prison for them, no big deal’.”
One of the grounds for the prosecution’s objection to bail was the fact that Browne had antecedents, though not of a similar nature.
Pilgrim said that argument held no weight, adding: “Are these matters so serious that it can’t be bailed?”
“What are the unique circumstances of Copeland Browne as a Bajan charged with an offence . . . that he can’t get bail? . . . Is he so much worse than the worst? What is it . . . that we cannot consider granting him bail? How do you justify keeping men in prison when you know the file is not yet ready?” the defence lawyer questioned.
The prosecutor responded that it did not matter what kind of antecedents the accused had, only that he had them.
“Sir, the Bail Act does not speak about antecedents of a similar nature; it talks about antecedents . . . .Whenever a person is being considered for bail, Sir . . . it doesn’t matter if you steal a cow, it doesn’t matter if you cuff somebody in the face, Sir; they are antecedents,” Watson argued as he pointed to the nature and seriousness of the charges before the court.
“That’s a lot of drugs, Sir. We know the problems in society with drugs and that’s the harsh reality, Sir. These drugs did not originate in Barbados . . . so that is the seriousness of the offence,” the prosecutor added.
He then submitted that “seven months is not inordinately long and homage still has to be paid to the Bail Act, Sir.”
After some back and forth between the lawyer and prosecutor, Magistrate Frederick ruled that today’s sitting was the final adjournment for the Crown to produce a file.
The matter will come up for hearing again on November 17.