The Court of Appeal has reinstated criminal charges against two men who were previously freed by magistrates.
Appellate Judges Allan Mendonca and Gillian Lucky revived the charges against Kevon Baptiste and Leslie Joseph, after upholding appeals brought by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)on Friday.
In Baptiste’s appeal, the DPP’s Office was challenging a magistrate’s decision to dismiss a series of criminal charges against him, after the police officer who laid the charges failed to attend the trial of the case.
Presenting submissions in the appeal, State prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal said the Arima magistrate took the decision despite being informed that the police officer was attending another case in the Tunapuna Magistrates’ Court at the time.
Baptiste was not present for the appeal and was not represented by an attorney.
The appeal panel upheld the appeal, as it agreed that the adjournment should have been granted based on the officer’s reasonable excuse for his absence.
In the second case, the DPP’s Office was challenging another magistrate’s decision to free Joseph from a charge of using annoying language to provoke persons to commit a breach of the peace because of how it was phrased.
At the start of the appeal, Justice Mendonca stated that the panel felt that the magistrate “got it awfully wrong,” as his decision was based on his memory of the legislation governing the offence and not what the statute actually stated.
“He did not take the time out to look at the section to see what it says,” Justice Mendonca said.
“It seems to suggest that magistrates are not provided with law books and have to recall from memory,” he added.
Neither Joseph nor his attorney was present to make submissions on the issue.
The appeal was upheld and the charge was reinstated.
During the hearing, the appeal panel also dismissed the appeal of an Arima woman who was challenging her conviction and sentence for cocaine possession.
The panel decision was based on the non-appearance of the appellant, Marilyn Layne.
The panel sought to give a warning to other appellants over the need to properly pursue their appeals.
“Appeals cannot be filed and appellants disappear. They must show interest in prosecuting their appeals,” Justice Mendonca said.
While the panel affirmed the $15,000 fine she received after being convicted, it noted that Layne could still apply to reinstate the appeal.
The DPP’s Office was also represented by Assistant DPP Tricia Hudlin-Cooper.