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Magistrate warns police complainants: Stop wasting judicial time
Senior Magistrate Annette Mc Kenzie has issued a stern warning to police complainants to stop presenting “flimsy excuses and wasting judicial time” when they fail to show up for court and are not prepared to continue their cases. Mc Kenzie made the comment as she addressed the case of European national Vaido Villem in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court yesterday.
Villem, 19, was charged with conspiring with others to traffic cocaine between January 1 and February 1. After hearing from Sgt Rawle Ramharrack that there were no exhibits to be disclosed, the magistrate asked if the prosecution intended to disclose any documents to the defendant, who was unrepresented.
Informed that copies of Villem’s cautionary statement and passport would be handed over to him, the magistrate got upset after learning that no copies had been made and the items would be handed over at a later date. She ordered that complainant get copies of all disclosable material immediately, and stood down the matter for ten minutes.
When the matter was recalled, Mc Kenzie refused to await the arrival of the complainant to continue. Told that a circular dated January 31 had been received from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ordering that all issues relating to disclosure should be left to his officer, Ramharrack said a state attorney would have to be appointed.
In the circumstances, Ramharrack objected to Villem’s being granted bail on the basis that he was a flight risk and had no ties to this country. The magistrate said she was concerned about the “undue length of time” it takes for police to send files to the DPP's office. Despite the notice from the DPP's office, Mc Kenzie said matters such as these needed to be dealt with “expeditiously and as soon as possible.”
Mc Kenzie told Villem to retain an attorney in time for the next hearing on February 18.
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