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Pierre-Jack changes plea to not guilty

Pierre-Jack changes plea to not guilty


The Lower Questelles woman charged under the CyberCrime Act (2016) was not convicted last Friday, as she backspaced on her guilty plea at the crucial juncture, just before her sentencing.

Catisha Pierre-Jack had first pleaded guilty to four counts of libel through electronic communication under s19 of the CyberCrime Act (2016), when she appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last Monday, February 12. These charges had stemmed from four posts she had made on Facebook on January 30, which made a number of allegations against her sister Crystal Pierre.

Section 19(1) of the Act states, “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.”

Senior magistrate Rickie Burnett had postponed the sentencing to Friday of that week to consider the penalty that should be imposed. Under the Act it states under s19(2) that, “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.”

However, his sentence has yet to see the light of day, as the defendant, who had previously been without lawyer, acquired one for herself before her return to court last Friday.

Her lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, had penned a letter to Burnett, which was presented last Friday morning, asking him to vacate the guilty plea against Pierre-Jack because of the circumstances under which it had been made.

The defendant told the court that the investigating officer, whom she identified as Corporal May, had forced her to enter a guilty plea, even after she had expressed that she believed that what she had written was true on at least two occasions.

When the magistrate read the letter, he indicated that he found it “disturbing” and of “some concern” and asked for the matter to be investigated.

Following this, he allowed the guilty plea to be vacated and when the charges were placed against Pierre-Jack for the second time, she pleaded not guilty to them all.

A trial date was set for April 24.(KR)