High Court Judge Damone Younge has ruled that Magistrate Rhondel Weever did not act fairly when she issued a warrant for the imprisoning of Police Inspector Prem Narine for seven days after finding him guilty on a charge of misconduct in court on May 22. After the issuance of the warrant, Inspector Narine through his lawyer Everton Singh-Lammy moved to the High Court seeking an Order of Certiorari quashing the decision of Magistrate Weever to issue the warrant for his imprisonment.
By way of a Fixed Date Application (FDA), Inspector Narine contended that the decision was made in error of law, unconstitutional, unfair, in excess of jurisdiction, capricious, an abuse of power, vexatious, malicious, unreasonable, irrational, unlawful and ultra vires. In her ruling dated September 18, Justice Younge granted the order sought by Inspector Narine, quashing the Magistrate’s decision.
The Judge ruled that Magistrate Weever was required to first read the charge to Inspector Narine, then afford him the opportunity to answer to the charge before finding him guilty. Further, Inspector Narine was awarded court costs in the sum of $30,000.
Saying that Magistrate Weever’s decision was not in keeping with the rules of natural justice, Justice Younge held, “The rules of natural justice mandate that (Inspector Narine) be told of the charge and be given an opportunity to answer same prior to a finding of guilt and the imposition of punishment.” The Judge added that nowhere on the case docket in relation to the charge against Inspector Narine was it stated that the charge was read to him or of him being allowed to respond to the allegation of misconduct before the court which is in breach of the rules of audi alteram partem rule.”
In court documents seen by this publication, on May, 22, Inspector Narine was called to testify in an ongoing trial before Magistrate Weever at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court in the matter of Police vs Mohamed Ali who is on trial for obtaining $2.1M in phone credit by falsely pretending to be Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence.
The court documents stated that, while testifying Inspector Narine had a lapse in memory and requested to refresh from his two-page statement. Certain sections of the Evidence Act make provisions for a witness to refresh from his/her statement.
The Magistrate is reported to have granted the request which allowed the senior police rank to read over certain parts of the statement before continuing his testimony.
According to the documents, Inspector Narine then made a second request to refresh from his statement but it was refused by Magistrate Weever and this resulted in a heated exchange between them which led to the Magistrate ordering that Inspector Narine be removed from the court and detained. It was further stated that Inspector Narine continued his behaviour unabated and Magistrate Weever informed him that he is guilty of misconduct in court and sentenced him to seven days in prison.
The warrant seen by this publication stated on May 22, 2019 at Courts 8&9 in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts Inspector Narine unlawfully insulted Magistrate Rhondel Weever and is guilty of misconduct before the court and by verbal order of the said Magistrate was ordered to be removed from the court and is sentenced to seven days imprisonment.
That said, Justice Younge, in her ruling underscored, “Whilst it may be easy to conclude that (Inspector Narine’s) conduct warranted his removal in the circumstances, it is the court’s view that did this not absolve (Magistrate Weever) from following procedural fairness, and giving (Inspector Narine) an opportunity to be heard on the issue of misconduct before the court finding him guilty and sentencing him to seven days imprisonment.”
According to the High Court Judge, the Attorney General and Magistrate Weever who were listed as the Respondents failed to challenge Inspector Narine’s version of the facts so there is no evidence before the court to support their contention that Magistrate Weever gave Inspector Narine an opportunity to be heard.
Justice Younge went on to say, “The Respondents, however, did submit that (Inspector Narine’s) behaviour during the sitting of the court on that day justified the course of action taken by (Magistrate Weever) to protect the administration of justice from being brought to disrepute. The Respondents also submitted that (Magistrate Weever) acted lawfully and within the parameters of her powers in issuing the Warrant after finding (Inspector Narine) guilty of misconduct before the court. It was further submitted that a higher standard of conduct is expected of (Inspector Narine) since he is a police officer and ought to know the law.”
A few hours after Magistrate Weever issued the warrant for the imprisoning of the police witness, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire ordered that he immediately released from detention. Justice George-Wiltshire held that the punishment of seven days imprisonment was excessive, and as such set aside the Magistrate’s warrant.
The Chief Justice ordered that there be a partial remission of the sentence to reflect detention from the time the order of sentence was passed (May 22) to no later than 16:30 hours of the said day. In essence, Justice George-Wiltshire said that the time Inspector Narine spent in police custody was sufficient punishment.
In 2016, Inspector Narine, then a Corporal, was adjudged ‘Best Cop’ when the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown held its annual award ceremony. At that time, he was attached to the Major Crimes Investigations Unit which is responsible for solving many cold murder cases and dismantling criminal gangs.
Inspector Narine is currently stationed at the La Grange Police Station, West Bank Demerara. He was reportedly transferred there after he wrote a letter outlining instances of corruption among senior ranks of the Major Crimes Investigations Unit. Among the matters investigated by Inspector Narine are trafficking in persons, possession of illegal firearm and ammunition, and robbery under-arms.
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