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DPP says demand for apology ‘Irrational, unjustified’

DPP says demand for apology ‘Irrational, unjustified’

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Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams says he will not sit idly by and have counsel for Dwaine Sandy attack the Commissioner of Police and the police force, in his demand of an apology for his client.{{more}}

The DPP’s comments were made in a letter sent to Sandy’s counsel, Grant Connell Tuesday.

Connell, in a letter dated September 3, had requested an apology from the authorities, stating that Sandy is no longer a wanted man, nor is he on the watch list for St Vincent and the Grenadines. On June 13, 2013, Sandy had appeared on a wanted poster in connection with a shooting and robbery in Kingstown earlier that day. Although Sandy was taken into custody twice by police, he was released both times without being charged.

On September 2, Sandy travelled to Trinidad and Tobago, but was not allowed to enter the country. He claims immigration officials told him he was still the watch list of SVG.

The DPP, in his letter, said he was driven to respond to Connell’s letter, since he considered that Connell exceeded the established boundaries of what is required in his lawyer-client relationship with Sandy.

“… and in doing so, you have (whether intentionally or not) unfortunately, cast negative aspersions not just on the rule of law, but the principal law enforcement agency in this land, “the letter read.

“Let me say from the outset that you know my position in relation to the length of time your client was detained on the first occasion after you both returned from Grenada. Also, similarly, I was ad idem with you on the mater of his re-arrest. However, I cannot sit idly by and see an unwarranted and unjustified attack on Commissioner Charles and the Police Force, coupled with an irrational and unjustified demand for an apology,” the DPP wrote.

The DPP said Connell appended two documents to his letter, the first of which was “ironically” a document from the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force commonly called a “police record”.

“That document demonstrates your client “does not appear in the criminal records” of this country. As counsel of several years standing, you would appreciate that there is a clear distinction between the absence of a criminal record and ‘good character’. A person who does not have a criminal conviction is not necessarily a person of sound repute,” the letter further read.

Williams said, while Sandy does not have any conviction, he wondered if Connell would hold him out to be a role model to any of his sons.

“Or if you had a daughter, would you welcome him into your home as a desirable son-in-law? Indeed, is Dwaine Sandy the kind of person you will sit down to have Sunday lunch with and introduce to your family as a friend? Indeed, would you do a recommendation for him?” Williams asked.

The DPP said Connell recently took Sandy’s passport to Grenada so that Sandy would be able to travel back to St Vincent by air.

“You may have noted that he had several entries in that passport showing his return to this country without any corresponding exit. So clearly, he is not a law-abiding person and one who has gone undocumented from one country to another (some persons equate that to smuggling). So even though he may not have been charged, prosecuted and convicted, one ought to be a bit more circumspect in seeking to describe him as you did as having some character which can be tarnished by the police. Given the antecedents, which are better known to you, one may well say you cannot ascribe the label of good character to your client without doing some serious violence to the accepted understanding of what is.”

The DPP explained that Border patrol (Immigration) may well consider refusing entry to someone with a clean police record whom they consider to be undesirable for some other reason.

According to Williams, Connell claimed that Sandy was denied entry because the authorities here stated he was “wanted” and that he was on a “watch list”.

“However, the document you annexed clearly states that Dwaine Darius Peter Sandy was rejected entry at Piarco airport “under section 20 or section 21* of the Immigration Act” of that country. The side note indicated that section 20 deals with: “Where a person cannot be properly examined” and section 21: “Report on person seeking admission”.

Williams said the provision under which Sandy was rejected, the Immigration officer before whom he appeared, said he could not “be properly examined due to the effects of alcohol, drugs or illness”.

According to the DPP, the law states that the Rejection Order against Sandy “shall cease to have effect when the person against whom it was made [Sandy] again appears before an Immigration officer and can, in the opinion of such officer, be properly examined by him.”

“The simple English reading of the law is that once your client presents himself before an Immigration officer and does not appear to be suffering from the effects of alcohol, drugs, illness so as to affect his examination, then things can proceed from there. It has nothing to do with whether he was once a wanted man,” the letter continued.

Williams said, while he respects the role that counsel must play, he urged Connell as a “friend and brother in the legal profession” not to unjustifiably and unreasonably do things which can bring the criminal justice system into disrepute and undermine the rule of law.

“I am sure that you know very well that there is no sound basis for your much publicised demand for a “public apology and release” in relation to your client. But a far less discerning public would not necessarily be able to understand that your call is simply based on instructions and cannot be supported by the two fundamental and necessary pillars – the law and the facts, “ the letter ended. (KW)

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