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Attorneys object

marciadottin, [email protected]

Attorneys object

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A NUMBER OF defence attorneys have challenged reports that an increasing number of those granted bail for murder have been charged for a second murder offence.
Attorney at law Angela Mitchell-Gittens was among those who have taken issue with the claim that out of 35 murder accused granted bail over the past four years, at least 12 were rearrested and charged with a second murder while on bail.
In last Friday’s WEEKEND NATION, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Leacock described the situation drawn to his attention by the Royal Barbados Police Force as a serious development.
He also disclosed that correspondence had been sent to Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson requesting a meeting to discuss the issue of granting bail to murder accused.
But Mitchell-Gittens was adamant that the statistics were incorrect and claimed that as far as she was aware, over the past four years there had only been a single reoffender on a murder charge after being granted bail.
She contended that while there might have been accused who were charged with two murders, it might not have occurred while they were on one charge, given bail and then allegedly committed the second offence.
Rather, the attorney drew reference to a case where one man was charged with committing murder at one stage and a second murder charge was brought against him more than a decade later.
“There have been little or no incidents of reoffending, with respect to any criminal matters at all for persons on bail for murder,” she said.
Attorney Ajamu Boardi also expressed concern about the numbers attributed to repeat murder offenders. But one of his major issues, however, was the report of the DPP requesting a meeting with the Chief Justice to discuss the issue of granting bail to murder accused.
Another attorney, Allan Carter, was “doubtful that the figure was correct” and called for “balance in the system”.
“In a small community like Barbados, you can’t have people thinking that if they commit murder, there is a strong likelihood that they will get bail. But, at the same time, you cannot trample on people’s constitutional rights.
“A judge must be free to make a decision after reviewing the evidence, and that is that.
“If you don’t want murder accused to get bail, then you have to look at giving that person a speedy trial.
“You also have to look at murders which were committed in self-defence; or where several persons are charged for one murder, evidence may reveal that some accused are less culpable than others,” Carter added.
Attorney at law Marlon Gordon believed that people questioning bail for murder accused was “an insult to judges”.
“A judge has to be in a position to assess all the factors concerning the offence and to make a decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, attorney at law Andrew Pilgrim QC described the statistics as “totally fallacious”.  
“It is either true or it is not. My research suggests that there is only one such case,” he charged. (SD)