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Complainant drops defamation charges

Complainant drops defamation charges
Left to Right: Catisha Pierre-Jack & Crystal Pierre

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A case which involved four defamation charges laid under section 19 of the Cyber Crime Act (2016) has been withdrawn following a request from the complainant.

On Monday September 9, former defendant Catisha Pierre-Jack of Lower Questelles, after over a year and a half, was freed of the legal burdens that she had been carrying since she was charged on February 12, 2018.

Last year February, she had first appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, where she originally pled guilty to four counts of libel through electronic communication. The legal ramifications came after posts that Pierre-Jack made on Facebook alleging serious things about her sister Crystal Pierre.

At that time Pierre-Jack was unrepresented by a lawyer, but when she was supposed to be sentenced at the end of that week, February 16, her newly acquired lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, had written a letter to the court and Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett.

This letter asked that the plea be vacated given the circumstances under which it was made. Pierre-Jack ended up being allowed to change her plea to “not guilty” after she told the senior magistrate that the investigating officer had forced her to enter a guilty plea even when she insisted that what she had written in her posts were true.

Since these events last year, the matter was supposed to go to trial but the senior magistrate recused himself.

On Monday, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne was about to indicate that she wished to recuse herself from the matter. She had begun by saying that she knew the complainant in the matter very well.
However, the defense attorney indicated that from a letter that was written, Crystal had expressed her wish to recuse herself from the matter, saying that she had no intention to proceed with the case.

The chief magistrate directed this information to the Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche who informed that he had just learnt about the letter that morning, and that he was withdrawing the charges against Pierre-Jack.

Crystal was not present in court. Pierre-Jack wasted no time exiting the court room after the announcement.

Section 19(1) of the Cyber Crime Act states that “A person who uses a computer system to unlawfully publish any defamatory matter concerning another person, with intent to defame that other person, commits an offence.”

If Pierre-Jack had been convicted under this section, the punishment is outlined in section 19 (2) which states, “A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on conviction to a fine of fifty thousand dollars or to imprisonment for two years or to both.”