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Burton Williams found guilty on two charges

Burton Williams found guilty  on two charges

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Lawyers for opposition politician Burton Williams said yesterday they will appeal the guilty verdict the court handed down against their client for two charges stemming from a New Democratic Party (NDP) protest in January 2011.{{more}}

“It is our intention to file an appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal,” Olin Dennie told Searchlight outside the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court shortly after the verdict.

Senior Magistrate Donald Browne yesterday found Williams, a former health minister, guilty of attempted damage to property and that, within the precincts of the House of Assembly, he behaved in a manner in which a breach of peace was likely to be occasioned, on January 28, 2011.

And following the convictions, Williams’ lawyers, Dennie and Andreas Coombs, said they will file an appeal by Monday.

A calm Williams, dressed in a grey jacket, white shirt, multi-coloured tie, black trousers, and black shoes, stood firmly as the magistrate delivered the verdict, shortly after midday.

On the attempted damage to property charge, Williams was fined $1,000 to be paid in one month or spend three months in jail.

He was further fined $1,500 for behaving in a manner in which a breach of peace was likely to be occasioned. The court gave him three months to pay that fine or spend three months in jail.

The sentences will run concurrently, if Williams does not pay the fines.

Members of the NDP, including representative for Central Kingstown and NDP vice-president, St Clair Leacock, representative for South Leeward, Nigel Stephenson, Margaret London, who was identified as a candidate for the NDP in the 2010 elections, and NDP spokesperson Ernesto Cooke, were in court as the verdict was read.

They conversed along with former candidate Addison “Bash” Thomas as Williams and his lawyers spoke to SEARCHLIGHT outside the court after the ruling.

“This case was not about a crime. This case was about politics. For 18 months, this government (Unity Labour Party) has tortured my wife and my family because of politics,” Williams said.

He further said he is “a victim of political victimisation”, adding that the verdict made him even more determined to win South Windward for the NDP.

Williams is a former representative of the constituency, but failed to win it for the NDP in 2010, having returned to the party years after a fallout with party founder and former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell.

In delivering his verdict, Browne said he found the evidence weighed heavily against Williams.

“Mr Williams is a well-educated and widely experienced man. A teacher, a parliamentarian and a businessman who had the privilege to be a Member of Parliament.

“He therefore knew or ought to have known that the outcome of his precipitated action, that is, ramming the main gate, if it had been successful, would have caused chaos, confusion and general mayhem…” Browne said.

On January 28, 2011, the NDP staged a march and rally in protest of the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Code 2011 Bill which was being read in Parliament.

Special Services Unit officer Sergeant 492 Ornal Jacobs told the court that on that day he drew his pistol and pointed it at persons who were using a barricade to force their way through the main gate to the House of Assembly.

Jacbos testified that he heard Williams speaking on a PA system mounted on a truck, encouraging the crowd to storm Parliament and stop the proceedings inside.

The prosecution also exhibited photographs, showing Williams as one of the persons holding onto the barricade used to ram the gate.

However, Williams told the court that he held onto to the bar to persuade protestors not to ram the gate.

He further said he was not pushing the barricade towards the gate, but rather pulling it.

During the trial, Williams’ lawyers made a no-case submission, saying no property was specified in the damage to property charge.

The court however, ruled against the submission.

The defence has 14 days to file an appeal.

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