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Application made to dismiss all charges against Frederick

Application made to dismiss all charges against Frederick


Magistrate Ricky Burnette will on July 11, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, rule on an application by defence attorneys for Senator Vynnette Frederick, to dismiss all charges against her.{{more}}

The application by Frederick’s attorneys was made on Tuesday, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, after Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Colin John amended the six charges against Frederick.

Defence attorney Andrew Pilgrim contended that the amendments were an abuse of process and said that the prosecution knew they had problems with the charges from day one.

Initially, three charges were brought against Frederick in September 2012.

She was charged with “that on January 10, 2011, at Kingstown, she did make a false declaration before Sonya Young, a magistrate, a person authorised to take a declaration upon a matter of public concern, under circumstances that the false declaration, if committed in a judicial proceeding, would amount to perjury.” Frederick was also charged with making false declarations on June 16, 2011 and May 23, 2012, before Faye James.

On February 15, 2013, three further charges were brought against Frederick. She was then charged with swearing falsely before Sonya Young and Faye James, persons authorised to take the oath on the same dates as the first set of charges.

On Tuesday, the charges were amended to read that on January 11, 2011, Frederick made a false declaration to a private criminal complaint before Sonya Young, a magistrate, a person authorized to take a declaration. She was also charged that on the same date, she falsely swore to a private criminal complaint before Sonya Young.

She is also charged that on June 16, 2011, she falsely swore to an affidavit and made a false declaration before Faye James, and that on May 23, 2012, she swore falsely to an affidavit and made a false declaration before Faye James.

The charges stem from a judgment handed down by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal on May 31, 2012, which indicated that Frederick intentionally gave evidence which was untrue, in a complaint she brought against Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, following the 2010 general elections.

“The Crown knew they had problems with these charges from day one, which is why they served three charges in September last year and on a second appearance in court, they served another three. Why now, after going to Biabou, and now we here in Georgetown, before we can get into any submissions, my friend (John) is ready to amend,” Pilgrim stated.

Before the amendments were read, John appeared to have some trouble getting them in order and magistrate Ricky Burnette stood down the court to give the prosecutor time.

During the wait, which lasted close to 45 minutes, members of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) who had turned out to support Frederick, spoke amongst themselves in the packed courtroom.

Frederick’s father, Bayliss Frederick, was seated with other defence counsel Keith Scotland and Mira Commissiong at the Bar table.

After the matter resumed, the six new charges were read to Frederick, but when she was asked if she was guilty or not guilty, Frederick replied, “I don’t know how to plead, your honour”.

“Your court is not a laughing stock or your court is not to be used for any one’s fancies. My client faces two years in jail and the loss of her right to practise at law. Against the backdrop, that the amendment doesn’t address the issue of particularity, these six, whole new charges, still don’t meet the bar…,” Pilgrim said.

“The crown seems not to be in a position to give us more details and particulars on the six amended charges… When a person is charged, let’s say for stealing, he should know the details. We want some details to say that she (Frederick) committed this act of swearing and what is it she swore at. None of that is included in the charges,” Pilgrim stated.

“Is it that the crown is in such a position that they are not obliged to tell us what the allegations against our client are?” Pilgrim questioned.

He said even after the assistant DPP read out the amended charges, it was still not clear what they were in relation to.

“I don’t know how plainly to put it. We want to know what you are talking about. I don’t know what you (DPP) are talking about. I don’t know whether he is saying that the defendant said the Prime Minister said. I don’t know. He has changed the date in respect of one… During the course of the last seven months, he has revealed that all along he was talking about the wrong date.”

According to Pilgrim, they are now in a position, “six adjournments” later, where the prosecution, who have had all the charges before them, were now seeking to adjourn the matters.

“Counsel Keith Scotland has come from the twin island country from the south (Trinidad and Tobago) and I hopped across from Barbados to come here, now have counsel apply for an amendment to six charges. My learned friend wants us to take these matters and ask our client, do you know who they are talking about now or which matter he is talking about, or whether it was sworn or not sworn…,” Pilgrim argued.

Pilgrim was of the view that the crown “presumably” knows what the particulars are.

“In this case, we are looking at presumably an affidavit or a declaration, which contains numerous terms and we are asked to know which one we have to respond to. There can be no harm to them (prosecution) in disclosing particulars…,” he said.

In response to Pilgrim’s submission, assistant DPP John said the charges were laid against Frederick prior to amendments. He said Frederick should know what charges she is facing and that disclosure was made to the defence since January 2013.

“They were served with all the documents, witness statements, the persons who are going to give evidence, so they should have reasonable notice as to what charges they are facing, as it relates to the evidence contained in those statements,” John said.

John said that Frederick should know or ought to know what charge she is facing and that she should be in a “very good” position to instruct her lawyers as to the charges she’s facing.

John assured that Frederick would not be given an unfair trial, but said “every minute” detail was not included in the charges.

“I’m submitting that the amendment be granted and that the matter proceed to trial,” John said.

“If you concede that it is your (the prosecution’s) fault and not ours, we are willing to agree. If he can’t say, we think the matter should end today,” Pilgrim, however, opined.

Pilgrim said in the event that the magistrate rules against the application made by the defence, they are prepared to continue with their submission but still want to know what are the words used by Frederick, which are being complained about.

The substantial matters will return to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court in July, after having been moved to Mesopotamia, Biabou and the Georgetown Magistrate’s Courts. (KW)