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Court finds four guilty of fighting during J’Ouvert

Court finds four guilty of fighting during J’Ouvert

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Two young men pleaded guilty to fighting, while two others were found guilty of the same offence at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last week.

Shemuel Thomas, Lamar Allen, Dwayne Wickham and Ari Shaw were charged with fighting in a public place, to wit Granby Street, Kingstown on July 4.

When the case began last Wednesday at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, Shaw, a reporter with Searchlight, and Thomas, a visitor from New York, both pleaded not guilty to the charge, while Allen and Wickham both pleaded guilty.{{more}}

Because of the absence from court of the prosecution witnesses last Wednesday, the matter was adjourned to the following day for trial.

When he took the witness stand last Thursday, corporal Wendell Corridon of the Traffic Department said that at around 8:30 a.m. on July 4, he was in the area of the Adventist Book Store regulating traffic for the J’Ouvert parade.

He said while there, he was alerted by revellers about an incident that was taking place at Granby Street and on arrival he met four young men fighting.

According to Corridon, Shaw was holding on to Wickham, while throwing punches at him.

He said that with the help of police constable Jason Young and other members of the Traffic Department, the situation was diffused and the young men were arrested and escorted to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), where they were handed over to police constable Adrian Forde.

During cross-examination, lawyer Grant Connell, who was representing Shaw, put it to Corridon that Allen and Wickham were the only two parties involved in the brawl and Shaw and Thomas were attempting to part the fight.

Corridon disagreed and said that he saw Shaw boxing Wickham while Thomas held on to him.

“Wickham was fighting up to get away from them,” the police corporal said.

“When Wickham was released, he began to fire boxes. The three persons fired boxes at him as well,” he added.

Connell also questioned Corridon as to why he did not ask the young men what was going on.

“Why didn’t you ask what was going on?” asked Connell.

“My intention was to take them to the Central Police Station, where they would be charged for the offence,” responded Corridon.

When Connell enquired into the way in which Shaw was arrested, it was revealed by Corridon that none of the officers had been issued handcuffs before leaving to carry out their duties that morning.

He also said that because he did not have handcuffs when he arrested Shaw, he restrained him by holding on to his pants.

“I held on to his pants at the area of the waist… Shaw was fighting up with me. The only place I could have hold on to was his pants.”

Corridon told the court that Shaw also tried to slap him.

“I was in uniform. After I grab him I told him that he was under arrest,” he said.

“You did not tell Shaw he was under arrest. You grab on to the man! You abuse the man, he ain’t must put up a resistance,” replied a seemingly upset Connell.

“Shaw was resisting by trying to pull away and he tried to slap me. He lift his hand in the air and was going to strike me,” said Corridon.

The very passionate defense lawyer also alleged that Corridon restrained Shaw by holding on to his dreadlocks.

“You were holding him by his pants and his hair and walking into people like a wild animal!

“You were not trying to restrain him; you were abusing him! Answer that!” Connell shouted.

Corridon admitted that he held on to Shaw’s hair.

“At one point I had to hold on to his hair. When he slapped my helmet off my head, I slapped him back.”

However, when he was later asked by Connell if he slapped Shaw, he said no.

Connell then questioned if that was the way he was trained to arrest someone.

“That’s what they train you to do?” asked Connell.

“No, your honour,” responded Corridon.

When police constable Jason Young took the stand on Thursday, he told the court that he was on duty on July 4 outside of the Gospel Hall Assembly in Kingstown, along with Corridon and other police officers, when they were alerted to a fight on Granby Street.

He said that when they got there, they met four young men engaged in a fight.

“All four men were exchanging fists with each other,” he said.

Young also disclosed that Shaw, who was arrested by Corridon, became aggressive and struck Corridon in his face with his hand.

While Young was giving his statement, Corridon was walking up and down the courtroom laughing, and at one point, even sat next to the prosecutor at the bench.

At one point, he positioned himself directly behind the witness stand where Shaw and Thomas were standing.

Also taking the witness stand was police constable Adrian Forde, who said that he was on duty at the CID office when the four men were brought in.

He told the court that after Corridon reported the incident to him, he conducted an investigation and obtained arrest warrants for the young men.

He also revealed that when he cautioned them, Thomas told him that he was only parting the fight; however, Shaw remained silent.

During cross-examination, it was revealed that in carrying out his investigation, Forde neither visited the scene of the fight nor did he seek information from independent witnesses.

When defendant Lamar Allen took the stand, he said that he was standing outside Going Places Travel Ltd when Wickham approached him and told him that he had offended him back when they were students at college.

A confrontation ensued, followed by a scuffle.

He said this resulted in Thomas holding him back, while Shaw held back Wickham.

“They were parting us. They were not part of the scuffle,” he said.

According to Allen, they were all arrested by police officers and taken to the police station. He revealed that on their way to the station, he saw Corridon and another officer holding Shaw by his trousers.

He also recalled Shaw telling them not to hold him like that and he would walk willingly.

“I was right behind them. People were even telling him to relax and don’t hold the man like that,” he said.

Allen also said that Corridon slapped Shaw, who retaliated by slapping him back.

Magistrate Bertie Pompey found both Shaw and Thomas guilty of the charge against them.

“I find both Ari Shaw and Shemuel Thomas guilty as charged. They were all involved in a fight.”

He fined Wickham and Allen $400 each, to be paid in two weeks. Shaw was fined $600, also to be paid in two weeks and Thomas was fined $600, to be paid by last Friday, as he was scheduled to return to the United States, where he resides, that day.

Shaw was also charged with assaulting Corridon on July 4; however, that case has been adjourned to September 30, 2016. (CA)

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