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Prison officer acquitted of cellular phone charges

Prison officer acquitted of cellular phone charges

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George Caesar let all his emotions loose at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, and he had good reason to do so.

Caesar, a prisoner officer of 17 years who was charged with conveying one Motorola VR50 cellular phone battery and one Sony Ericsson cellular phone into Her Majesty’s Prison to facilitate the escape of convicted murderer Sheldon “Dutch” Bain, was acquitted on both counts on Tuesday, March 30, 2010.{{more}}

Moments after a teary eyed Caesar exited the courtroom with his Lawyer, he thanked God for seeing him through the case. “I feel happy because I know I was not guilty and God was on my side all the way,” Caesar noted.

As for his next move, Caesar says he, along with his Lawyer, will be working on getting his job back.

Bain, a Grenadian fugitive, was convicted in December 2008 for the murder of Taxi operator Peter “Kazaman” Joseph at Cane Hall in 2004. He had managed to escape from the Richmond Hill prison in Grenada in 2004 while awaiting sentencing for the murder of Vincentian trafficker Omelia Roberts of Belmont.

It was stated in court that a woman met Caesar just outside the Prison compound and gave him the phone to take to Bain. Luckily, that phone was intercepted before it got to Bain.

When the matter resumed on Friday, March 26, at the Magistrate’s Court, Caesar’s Lawyer Ronald Marks raised some concern about how the matter was dealt with by the prison authorities. Marks noted that the matter was a constitutional one, which should have passed through the proper channels before making its way to the law courts.

Marks said that the procedure where there is an instance of misconduct is that the matter should have been reported to the Permanent Secretary, then to the Public Service Commission, who would in turn refer to the Director of Public Prosecutions to take the necessary actions.

Furthermore, Marks stated that the Magistrate’s Court does not operate in a vacuum, even though matters of persons’ constitutional rights are heard in the High Court. “To say this is not an administrative matter is really ignoring the facts of the case.”

When the case was called back for hearing on Tuesday this week, Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, said that the court was not dealing with an administrative issue, but instead it was a criminal case. The DPP noted that the Public Service Commission governs the operations of the public service.

Bain, who gave evidence in the matter, revealed that he didn’t know anything about the phone or battery. He added that he only had conversations with Caesar about prison duties.

Before acquitting Caesar, Senior Magistrate Donald Browne said that he was satisfied that Caesar knew that Bain wanted to escape and that he (Caesar) was part and parcel of his escape plan.

“Sheldon Bain is without doubt a most dangerous criminal. A Prison officer of 17 years experience should know the running of the prison and that prisoners of that sort shouldn’t be given any type of comfort,” Browne asserted.

In chiding Caesar, Browne said: “I don’t know if Caesar realizes that if Bain had gotten through with his escape, the first person he was coming for is Caesar because he knows too much.”

Magistrate Browne said he was baffled as to how Caesar could have gotten himself in that situation. He noted that Bain “looks like the Angel Gabriel coming to give the good news, but instead he has a dangerous mind.” Browne stated that he was glad the phone was intercepted but “the court cannot say that the phone was actually conveyed. It is with utmost reluctance I have to dismiss these charges against him.”(KW)

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