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Senior prosecutor calls for end to Preliminary Inquiries

Senior prosecutor calls for end to Preliminary Inquiries


Senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche thinks the time has come for the court to do away with Preliminary Inquiries and proceed solely on the basis of paper committals.{{more}}

Delpesche’s comments came following Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias’ decision on Monday, April 20, to commit Jarielle Belle to trial at the High Court without a preliminary inquiry into the charges he faces.

Belle, alias ‘Mad Max’, was charged more than a year ago with robbing an employee of St Hill Insurance Company Ltd of the company’s money bag and a gun in Kingstown on January 30, 2014.

“It is a lot more effective. It helps with backlog. It saves time and it saves the prosecution from having to call witnesses twice and saves the court time,” Delpesche said of paper committals.

A committal hearing process ultimately involves a decision by a magistrate as to whether the prosecution’s evidence is capable of satisfying a jury, properly instructed, beyond reasonable doubt that you have committed an indictable offence. If the magistrate does not believe the evidence would satisfy a jury, the magistrate will dismiss the charges. If the magistrate believes the evidence would satisfy a jury, then you will be committed for trial.

According to the prominent prosecutor, paper committal has been on the books since 1989, but it is not often used.

Delpesche said Roger Gaspard, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, suggested that the method should be used here, as did former Chief Magistrate Simone Churaman. He said even immediate past Chief Magistrate Sonya Young used it from time to time.

“Justice can be likened to bread. It is best when fresh. If you have a fresh matter, it’s best for both sides. When you have matters lingering so long, it gets stale, witnesses get disenchanted and other things. The paper committal is just a faster way through,” Delpesche opined.

“I don’t have a problem saying so. Both sides look at the depositions. Prosecution looks at their case and defence looks at the case and we both decide if there is a prima facia case made out based on the statement… It is done in open court and within five or 10 minutes we are finished. On the contrary, a PI could take hours,” Delpesche added.

Belle will appear at the High Court’s Criminal Assizes at its next practical sitting.

He is charged with robbing Raymond Durrant of Ratho Mill of a green St Hill Insurance Company Limited bag, containing a sum of money in cash and cheques, the property of St Hill Insurance Limited, and a 9mm pistol and four rounds of ammunition.

Belle is further charged with having a firearm in his possession without a licence and possession of two rounds of ammunition. He is also charged with using a firearm with intent to commit an offence – to wit, robbery, and having a firearm in his possession with intent to endanger the life of Durrant, at Grenville Street, Kingstown, on January 30, 2014.

Another Paul’s Avenue resident, Kwasie Ryan, 24, tattoo artist, had faced the same charges as Belle. However, Ryan was shot and killed in March, last year.

According to reports, at 3:45 p.m. on the day in question, Durrant was relieved of a bag of money containing cash and cheques, while on his way to the RBTT Bank at South River Road to deposit the money.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that as Durrant crossed the street outside the St Hill Insurance building, accompanied by his young daughter, he was approached from behind by a masked man, who fired off two gunshots, grabbed the bag containing the money and then fled the scene. Neither Durrant nor his daughter was injured in the incident.(KW)