Apr 09, 2011 News Comments Off on Magistrate blames police for case backlog
For quite some time, prisoners on remanded have been expressing aggravation over the period they are forced to wait to have their matters heard both at the smaller and high court.
When questioned about this occurrence, both the magisterial body and the police are pointing fingers at each other.
A senior Magistrate in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court noted that when the police charge the alleged defaulters they do little or nothing to assist the court during the trial.
Another issue cited was the scores of non-bailable offences that are committed on a daily basis and the grave shortage of Magistrates on the bench.
“To be truthful I can only speak for the Magistrates’ Court because on a daily basis I am one of the Magistrates who have to put up with these very issues”.
She added that most matters being heard are delayed as a result of police not filing statements or police witnesses not showing up on the required dates among others.
As a consequence the magistrate presiding over the matter has no other option than to further remand the accused. It must be noted that if the case is called on several occasions and the prosecution is yet to complete their file the matter can be discharged for want of prosecution.
But before doing so, the court has certain procedures that magistrates must follow in discharging a case.
One such case involved the charge instituted against Nkofi Longhorn and Leon Richard. The two were charged for wounding each other on December 26, 2008 at Samatta Point, Grove, East Bank Demerara.
The matter was first heard at the Providence Magistrate’s Court and Longhorn was allowed $75,000 bail at the same time Richard was released on self bail.
Luckily for them the offences they were charged with are bailable.
On the day in question, Longhorn inflicted grievous bodily harm on Richard while the plaintiff was charged with committing a felony on his assailant (Longhorn).
Richard’s injuries saw him being hospitalised at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation for two months.
Ever since, the matters have been engaging the attention of the court and a trial has not yet commenced.
The matter has now been transferred to the Georgetown Magistrates’ court.
Inspector Hugh Winter who is spearheading the prosecution said that the court is in no receipt of the reason for the transfer.
Yesterday’s hearing saw the matter being adjourned to another date. On that point the Magistrate noted that the Police Force needs to eliminate the slothfulness in carrying out further investigation.
Furthermore, lawmen who are tasked with investigating offences should be regularly tutored, something which she believes will speed up the trials.
“Sometimes when trials are slated to commence, the prosecutors are not in possession of the file, police witnesses are absent, and witness are not feeling well,” the source mentioned.
As it is, there are a maximum of ten 10 courts in the Georgetown Magisterial District but only six are currently hearing cases.
For the past weeks, due to the dismissal of Magistrate Omeyana Hamilton, there are now only five. This occurrence has resulted in further injuries the magisterial body is facing.
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