By Latrishka Thomas
The former Cabinet ministers who were acquitted of corruption, embezzlement and conversion charges in relation to three buses they acquired in 2008 are seeking to have an appeal against the ruling struck out by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
The case centred on three Daewoo buses donated in 2008 to the then United Progressive Party (UPP) administration by the government of South Korea. The defendants were accused of converting and using the vehicles – worth more than $200,000 each – for their own personal use.
On November 23 last year, Justice Colin Williams dismissed the case against former UPP ministers Harold Lovell, Wilmoth Daniel and Dr Jacqui Quinn after hearing ‘no case’ submissions from their lawyers at the end of an almost three-week judge-only trial.
But almost two weeks later the prosecution filed a notice of appeal to the appellate court citing 12 reasons why they believe “the learned trial judge erred in law”.
The goal is for the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal “in whole or in parts”; grant “permission for the appellant to file further on any other grounds on the receipt of the record of the transcript”; “quash and set aside” the judge’s ruling; or any other orders the court considers appropriate and just.
But yesterday, the ECSC justices Davidson Kelvin Baptiste, Gertel Thom and Mario Michel heard submissions from the defence who are hoping to stop the case from being appealed.
Attorney Justin Simon QC began the submissions, speaking on behalf of Daniel, his client.
He essentially argued that, according to the law the notice of appeal should have been given before the defendants were discharged and, since the prosecution took two weeks to apply, their appeal should be shot down.
“The law places an obligation on the DPP to early notify the court of his intention to appeal before the court discharges the defendants,” he said, adding that the “right given to the DPP to appeal must be interpreted and applied strictly”.
Attorney Dane Hamilton Snr QC who represents Quinn made similar remarks, however, adding that “the notice of appeal filed in this matter is seriously flawed”.
Attorney Sherfield Bowen, who represents Lovell, chose to piggyback on the submissions made by his colleagues.
Prosecutor Gilbert Peterson SC rebutted, saying that the part in the law which states that notice “shall” be given prior to discharging the accused is directory and not mandatory.
He explained that it was impossible to give notice because the judge’s dismissal of the trio was “instantaneous”.
“There was no time for intervention by the DPP at that stage,” he said.
“The split-second obligation…. could not have been the intention of Parliament,” Peterson continued.
He further opined that a decision to appeal requires consideration and consultation and, having no time to do so, “the only other avenue is to file a notice within 14 days,” which they did.
The court will give its decision at a later date.