Don’t blame us!

Lawyer for Nation trio says it’s the company, not his clients, at fault

The lead lawyer representing three Nation Publishing Co. Limited employees made an attempt to have the case thrown out today.

Alair Shepherd, QC, made the no-case submission on behalf of Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens, Editor-in-Chief Roy Morris and News Editor Sanka Price, who are charged with publishing an indecent photograph of two minors in the SATURDAY SUN on October 26, 2013.

After cross-examining the prosecution’s final witness, Shepherd swiftly made the submission to Magistrate Alliston Seale at the District ‘D’ Magistrates’ Court.

After a brief adjournment, Shepherd, with the assistance of fellow lawyer Ezra Alleyne, argued that the prosecution had presented no evidence to suggest any guilt on the part of the three defendants.

From left, Alair Shepherd QC in conversation with fellow attorney Ezra Alleyne and Nation Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens outside the courtroom today.
From left, Alair Shepherd QC in conversation with fellow attorney Ezra Alleyne and Nation Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens outside the courtroom today.

Furthermore, he stated that the prosecution should have brought the charge against the Nation Publishing Co Limited, rather than three of its employees.

“The prosecution has to show intent, and has to establish that a deed or physical act has been committed by the individual accused. I do not see any evidence presented by the prosecution that points to the accused showing the photo to anyone,” the attorney said.

“There is no evidence the prosecution has brought that shows the act was committed by the individual accused.”

Shepherd further argued that none of the accused could be held responsible for the publication of the photograph.

He revealed that while Gittens was a member of the Board, there was no evidence to suggest that the photograph was published with the active consent of the Board. He said this was underscored by the fact that no other Directors had been charged in the matter.

“The prosecution would have to show that each individual was responsible for, or caused the paper to publish the photograph, because that was the act of the company. The intention is not there,” Shepherd insisted.

He also said there was no evidence to show that the Alma Parris Memorial – the school both the boy and the girl in the photograph attended at the time – only had students up to the age of 16.

Due to this fact, Shepherd said none of the individuals charged were aware of the students’ ages prior to the picture being printed.

Additionally, he claimed that the photograph was only indecent to those persons who had seen the video and had made the connection between the two.

In his short argument, Alleyne said the picture showed “a male standing behind what may or may not be a female, because the picture was blurred.”

He explained that the narrative of the story assisted with the perception of the photograph. However, he pointed out that the story was not named in the charge against the Nation trio.

“With the naked eye one cannot make out anyone. Forensically, it is impossible to prove who the two people are in the picture.

“Even the two students cannot identify themselves with reference to anything in the picture,” he added.

Alleyne said there was no evidence to suggest that any of the accused showed the picture to anyone.

He too insisted that if anyone was at fault, it had to be the company.

“If anybody is guilty, it is the company. They cannot be guilty as officers of the company.”

After hearing the submission, Prosecutor Inspector Eustace Ifill agreed that the prosecution had raised some technical points, and asked for the matter to be adjourned to give himself, along with Sergeant Janice Ifill, a chance to respond.

The matter was then adjourned until next week Thursday.

Earlier, social worker Jennifer Walker told the court she was outraged, disturbed and saddened when she saw the photograph.

She also described it as “poor journalism and a disservice to the children.”

The three witnesses who testified yesterday all returned to court today to identify the photograph, which was carried on the back page of the newspaper.

Principal of the Alma Parris Memorial Valdez Francis also testified, saying that he could identify the people in the picture as students of his school “because of the shape of the tie which the boy was wearing”.

12 Responses to Don’t blame us!

  1. Tony Webster June 26, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Kitchen Dynamics 101: I’m surprised at this “defense”: even if allowed, the prosecution cud simply reach for that ol’ cou-cou-stick, which is used to “smooth-out” any stubborn “accessory” or factual lumps in the cou-cou which might be discovered before, during, or after the commission of eating thereof.

    Given the facts already in the (very) public domain, I however just cannot shake the smell of farce (careful Webster, make plain wunna speaking of “farce”…. de-food t’ing) in the kitchen, with a suble , but inescapable tinge of over-heated (and possibly burnt) political sauce…
    Q.E.D. (Quite Easily Devoured)

  2. Andrew The Voice June 26, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Just asking!, are they going to prosecute the person(s) who made the video, and photos etc, isn’t that also illegal? are they going after them?
    Just asking?

  3. Ronald field June 26, 2015 at 8:08 am

    So Bajan of us to ignore the perpetrators of the crime and focus on the whistle blowers. The Nation only published what was happening and they are the ones before the judge??? What happened to freedom of the press?? The families of those involved embarrassed?? Too bad! They should be!! But lawyers should not be getting a nice payday from the newspapers for publishing what wotlessness was being denied to exists here.

  4. Watchman June 26, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I continue to be amazed at the number of Bajans that think publishing and offering for sale child pornography is legal.

  5. Meakai June 26, 2015 at 9:05 am

    How many people, seeing only this blurred phot and not having read or heard about the story, would conclude that it was too students having sex at school?

    How come no charges are brought against journalist for publishing indecent photographs of revellers “doing de dog” in the state sponsored wukup festival?

    Do people really believe that this case is about the publishing of an in decent photograph?

    When will people call out the State on its intimidatory tactics?

  6. Patrick Blackman June 26, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I am not a lawyer so I will leave my comments to be corrected by the lawyers. The article states that the kids were minors therefore I would assume that they are under the statutory age of consent. Given this then we may have case of statutory rape here, regardsless of the mutual consent by the kids.

    Secondly, it was stated by the parent of the female that she was “slow” (diminished mental capacity I assume) and therefore would require additional monitoring by the school. Since this occurred at school, the administrator of the school and by extension the ministry are directly responsible for the protection of all students and therefore we may have a case for negligence (failure to protect) here (whether or not the school was aware of the act) as it failed to protect both minors. The person taking the video should also be taken before the courts as their actions were illegal(in my view) from the perspective that we are dealing within minors.

    The statement by Shepherd is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my life coming from a lawyer
    “Due to this fact, Shepherd said none of the individuals charged were aware of the students’ ages prior to the picture being printed.” – The editorial board of the Nation has an implied duty to execute “Due diligence” in its reporting and since they know that this act occured at a school, they should not have posted any graphics as there was the possibility of minors being party to the act. This was a move to boost circulation for that day.

  7. Kevin June 26, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Bring back the Investigator. We Bajans need our dose of smut.

  8. Tony Waterman June 26, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    @Patrick Blackman!!!!!! What the Hell are you Talking about, the photo/Video was on the INTERNET, Millions, Maybe Billions saw it.
    secondly, it can’t be classified as RAPE as they are BOTH of a Similar age (No age Differential) and he was not a person of Influence.

  9. Patrick Blackman June 26, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    @Tony Waterman – rape is not defined by age differential, its defined by consent and as a minor she cannot give consent.

    Influence is determined by serveral factors so we could debate that for years, but her mother said she was “slow” and if I take that in the normal bajan context, it means she was a bit retarded (no offence meant).

    “What the Hell are you Talking about, the photo/Video was on the INTERNET, Millions, Maybe Billions saw it.” What are you getting here?

    As I said ..”I am not a lawyer so I will leave my comments to be corrected by the lawyers.”, it was just my take on the matter.

  10. jacob June 27, 2015 at 12:28 am

    To publish lewd pictures of anyone without their consent is shaddy and probably not legal. To do it to kids is digusting, illegal and is child pornography. People trying to shame these kids like they invented sex at school. newsflash this was happening when i was going to high school 20 years ago. before the internet and cellphones. All you hipocrits probably did it to or wanted to when you were going to school.


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