Apr 11, 2016 News
The temporary removal of the Sparendaam Magistrates Court to the Better Hope Community Centre to facilitate the construction of a modernized one has come as a relief to those who had to endure the stifling heat in the old building .
Upon entry into the breezy compound, one would be greeted by a huge grass tarmac. Court proceedings are kept in the upper flat of the Community Centre.
To gain access to the heavily grilled building one would have to tread up a stair and be greeted by a Police Officer /Court Orderly who stands at the entrance.
Once inside, persons must take a seat on wooden benches. There are several of these benches around the spacious courtroom. Some are designated for prisoners, while reporters, probation officers and police officers would occupy the others.
The witness box, bar table, prosecutor’s table and prisoners’ dock form a box like structure in the centre of the space. It is within this confinement that the voices of lawyers and prosecutors are heard questioning witnesses.
The Magistrate is seated behind a podium at the forefront.
Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul sits in this court. Ally-Seepaul was sworn in as Magistrate on August 2, 2012. She had previously served as a Senior State Counsel at the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Seated in a corner is the Magistrate’s clerk who is constantly seen with a pen and pepper in hand busy preparing peace bonds or instructing persons to sign recognizance.
On the other hand, male prisoners are kept downstairs in the lock-ups and are usually seen peeking through the iron grills. They are shackled and handcuffed before entering the courtroom.
Female prisoners are rarely shackled and handcuffed unless they are being charged for the capital offence of murder.
Court sessions at the new location are far more comfortable than those kept in the previous building. Hot and noisy are just a few words that can be used to describe the old courtroom.
So hot was it, that people would be seen using papers and almost anything to fan themselves, since the court had no AC units. Magistrates had to make use of an electrical fan.
Then there were the annoying sounds coming from vehicles traversing the Rupert Craig Highway. On many occasions, presiding magistrates would be forced to stop court proceedings for a brief while to allow the vehicles pass.
The Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court operates from Monday to Friday and has jurisdiction to deal with criminal, civil as well as traffic matters.
A judicial source had told Kaieteur News that once completed, the modernized court house will accommodate two courtrooms and will be enhanced to block out the sound of heavy traffic.
If someone was to visit the court’s old location they would see several tall concrete poles as the foundation for the new building has already been laid.
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