Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls has been slapped with a charge of permitting a police officer assigned to the Special Branch Unit to drive his vehicle without a valid certificate of insurance.
PC Simon, Mc Nicolls' driver, was also charged with driving a vehicle without a valid certificate of insurance. Both were charged via summonses under the Motor Vehicle and Insurance Act, Chapter 48:51 Section 3:1. Mc Nicolls is not the first presiding magistrate to be charged with a traffic offence.
Last November, Senior Magistrate Jo-Anne Connor was before Mc Nicolls in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court on three traffic charges. Connor was later acquitted, after Mc Nicolls ruled that the Transport officer who laid the charges had no authority under the law to do so.The information against Mc Nicolls and PC Simon was laid before a Justice of the Peace at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court late Tuesday, mere days before the statutory time frame for laying the charges had expired. Police sources said they received instructions from the office of acting Director of Public Prosecutions Carla Brown-Antoine to prefer the charges against the Chief Magistrate and the officer.
The file was first submitted to head of the Port-of-Spain Division Snr Supt Paul Rodriguez and later sent to the DPP's office for advice. After the information was laid, investigators obtained summonses for Mc Nicolls and Simon to appear before Port-of-Spain Sixth Court Magistrate Debbie Ann-Bassaw on September 10. The prosecution claimed that on February 13, 2009, Mc Nicolls permitted Simon to drive his Hilux van along the Lady Young Road, Belmont.
The charges, police said, stemmed from an accident in which a pick-up, driven by a woman of Mt Hope, collided with Mc Nicolls' vehicle. The woman later made a report at Belmont Police Station, while PC Simon reported the accident later that night at Princes Town Police Station. Police sources said the summonses were not served on Mc Nicolls and Simon up to late yesterday. Cpl Rakesh Ramsook of the Belmont Police investigated the matter and laid the charges.
On November 23, 2007, Senior Magistrate Jo-Anne Connor was acquitted on three road traffic charges when she appeared in the Port-of-Spain Eight Magistrates' Court before Mc Nicolls. Mc Nicolls agreed with Connor's lead attorney, Dana Seetahal, SC, who argued that Transport officer George Newtown had no powers under the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act to lay charges. Connor had been charged with improper overtaking, failing to comply with traffic signals and inconsiderate driving while proceeding along the Audrey Jeffers Highway, Mucurapo, on June 10, 2006.