Applauding DPP Leacock’s tough stance

If Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock, QC, were to have his way, no one accused of murder or other very serious crime would be able to remain free on bail pending his or her trial “unless it is a very exceptional case”.

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Charles Leacock
Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Charles Leacock

The few exceptions, he said in an interview with Barbados TODAY, as public debate raged on the contentious issue, are cases involving, for example, “a very elderly person or a very young person like a schoolboy with a very appropriate defence like self-defence”.

“I agree you can’t keep people [on remand] indefinitely, and those cases should be fast-tracked; but we must set up an administrative way of dealing with it rather than just giving everybody bail for murder,” he said.

The island’s top prosecutor spoke against the backdrop of citizens raising considerable concern about murder accused in particular committing more serious offences while out on bail. Earlier this week, one such individual was brought before the courts on an additional murder charge.

Mr Leacock is on the same wavelength as the majority of Barbadians. For sometime now, the citizenry has felt that criminals are holding the country to ransom, and are somehow getting away with it. It also must be quite frustrating for the police.

Indeed, Mr Leacock has expressed the view that criminals for too long have not been feeling the full weight of the law, and the justice system must start sending a strong message that crime does not pay.

The reason why some murder accused are released on bail is the slow pace at which cases are currently moving through the justice system. Accused have the right to a speedy trial. In cases where they have been on remand for years, they can apply for bail which is allowable under the Bail Act.

Arguing strongly against bail for murder accused, Mr Leacock said: “We don’t necessarily have to review the Bail Act to do that. 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.”

DPP Leacock’s stance has the support of the magistracy. A few magistrates, speaking earlier this week on condition of anonymity with Barbados TODAY, agreed the slow pace of the justice system was the major contributing factor.

“The system needs to improve so that everybody gets tried in a quick and reasonable time,” one magistrate said.

In cases where bail is given, he suggested that compulsory electronic tagging which is used in other jurisdictions, could be introduced here.   

“That would put the community more at ease knowing that people who are on bail are monitored, and the authorities would know where the accused are,” he said.

Further, he suggested that “if the tag is tampered with, it should be an offence as well”.  This is an excellent idea worth considering!   

There has been enough talk about the problems affecting the efficiency of the justice system. What is urgently needed now is decisive action to provide solutions. The delays are not only affecting the disposal of criminal cases, but also matters which have an impact on business and the economy.

The situation has already drawn criticism from the Caribbean Court of Justice, our highest appellate court. We believe that the issue has reached the stage where it should be treated as an emergency. An inefficient court system can have the effect of undermining public and investor confidence.

Government should set up an independent task force, for example, to address the issue and recommend solutions. The task force could comprise members of the judiciary itself, the Barbados Bar Association, the Royal Barbados Police Force, and a representative or two from civil society.

Even though Government is grappling with serious financial challenges, a way must be found to provide the necessary resources to fix the problem. We look forward to a definitive statement from Government, including a plan of action to be implemented within a specific time frame.

Ours is a society founded upon the principle of the rule of law. An efficient justice system is therefore indispensable for the smooth and orderly running of Barbados. Justice must not only be done; it must also be seen to be done!

5 Responses to Applauding DPP Leacock’s tough stance

  1. Kent Bridges November 7, 2015 at 7:18 am

    right……so you want people who are innocent until proven guilty to remain on remand for years, at your whim and fancy, until said case is started? Oh but wait you also want the magistrates to flout the law by relying, not on the said Law but on their own understanding?

  2. carson c cadogan November 7, 2015 at 9:05 am

    He does not impress me in the least.

    Under the Bail act, Murder suspects can get Bail. THAT IS THE LAW.

    He is supposed to be a custodian of the Law and he wants the Law not to be applied.

    What happens when a person sits on remand for 5 or 10 years only to be found not guilty or worse still the Police drop the charges? How do they get recompense for all of those wasted years of their lives?

    The state should be made to pay each one a years wages times the number of years sitting on remand. $150,000 or more nothing less per wrongly remanded suspect. This money should be taken out of the pay of the DPP.

  3. carson c cadogan November 7, 2015 at 9:27 am


    Nineteen months after being kept at Glendairy, a man accused of murder was allowed to go home by the District “A” Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

    Saying that justice must be done, CHIEF MAGISTRATE ClYDE NICHOLLIS Upheld submissions by attorneys Ann-Roberta Hanoman and Latchman Kissoon and allowed Dwayne Rommell Haynes $75,000 bail with a surety.

    He, however, confiscated Haynes’ passport and put him on a dusk-to-dawn curfew until January 25.

    Haynes, 23, of 3rd Avenue, Arthur’s Land, Tweedside Road, St. Michael, was charged with murdering Kenneth Dettering on April 12, 2003.

    Last week, his lawyers applied for bail, saying that while a few witnesses had been called the prosecution was now adjourning the matter without any progress.

    Dettering was shot in front of Brigette’s Bar, Nelson Street, The City, around 12:35 a.m. and was discovered upstairs by police, lying in a pool of blood with several gunshot wounds to the upper abdomen.

    It is believed that this is the first time in the history of Barbados that a murder-accused has been granted bail.”


    Thursday December 2, 2004

  4. dave November 7, 2015 at 11:56 am

    This DLP Govt is so BAD !!! It is a shame !! But you know what Idiots vote for them and the idiots still saying ” my party” while the country Barbados suffers—Idiots and Iggrunt people in Barbados got things the way they are—Stupid Jokers !!!
    The people in Barbados dont seem to think that they matter

  5. Tony Webster November 8, 2015 at 3:43 am

    BTW: what is the fundamental rationale, or utility, of remanding an accused? Has this baby accompanied the bathwater being ejected thru da window?

    Since when has expediency morphed into a virtue?

    Where does the “buck stop”…on national issues such as this?


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