By Latrishka Thomas
One of the men believed to have set the blaze at the Bon Appetit restaurant in Falmouth on May 1, has been granted bail.
Twenty-one-year-old Shukur Hodge appeared before Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel-Edwards yesterday afternoon, having been recently charged with arson.
Hodge’s lawyer, Wendel Robinson, in making an oral application for his client to receive bail, indicated that the young Villa resident has been in custody since the day of the incident.
Robinson said that consequently he was planning to file a writ of habeas corpus because more than 48 hours had passed before his client was charged and brought to court, and that is a “breach of my client’s rights,” he said.
The attorney further stated that he’d indicated to the police that he wished to be present when his client was interviewed, but they “disrespected me by not having his lawyer present while he was giving his statement.
“I am disappointed in the behaviour of the prosecutors,” he added.
He digressed by informing the court that his client is unemployed and has no prior convictions.
Furthermore, “the present situation at the prison is such that the bail should only be denied in extreme circumstances,” Robinson remarked while indicating that there is a second outbreak of Covid-19 at Her Majesty’s Prison.
The prosecution objected to Hodge being granted bail based on the fact that there is another person being sought in connection with the same incident; that the outbreak is not at the prison, but at the base; and because of the nature of the charge, it could not be brought until a proper investigation had been made by the fire department.
Robinson then countered that it was “unacceptable for the prosecution to say it is okay to breach someone’s rights because of the nature of the charge.”
Having heard both arguments, Magistrate Emanuel-Edwards decided to grant bail under several conditions.
Firstly, she inquired into the value of the building and was informed that the building was worth $892,000 while its contents were worth $395,000.
She subsequently issued bail in the sum of $100,000 with no cash component.
Hodge was also ordered to surrender his travel documents, provide two Antiguan sureties and report to the nearest police station every day.
He was also placed on a 7 pm curfew and was ordered not to venture past Roman Hill, near Liberta.
The defendant was further warned not to interfere with the other possible defendant and any potential witnesses.
His committal hearing was set for August 9.
According to the police, a second person has been arrested, but is yet to be charged.