By Latrishka Thomas
There were two developments in the court hearing involving former Member of Parliament (MP) Dean Jonas yesterday. One being that the police have filed an additional charge against him and the other was a submission put forward by his lawyer positing that the police are barred from prosecuting criminal matters.
Jonas — the former minister of Social Transformation and Gender Affairs — was charged last week with resisting arrest, making use of threatening language, disorderly conduct, and battery after an incident that occurred at his Scott’s Hill home on February 23.
But just recently he was slapped with a fifth charge – assault.
The politician appeared in the St John’s Magistrate’s Court yesterday where he was due to enter pleas.
But his lawyer Wendel Robinson surprised the court with a submission, arguing that the police have no jurisdiction to prosecute criminal matters according to Section 31 of the Criminal Prosecutions Service Act passed in 2017 which repealed Section 31 of the Police Act, Cap. 330.
That section of the Police Act gave the police the power to prosecute.
Robinson admitted that he erred in objecting to the Crown prosecuting the matter last week having come across the legislation.
He said according to the new regulation only the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and a prosecution service unit – which at present does not exist – could prosecute matters in the state.
“He has no clothes, no shoes, no shelter, no nothing to stand on,” Robinson said in his rousing submission referring to head police prosecutor, Dane Bontiff, who had earlier indicated that he would be prosecuting the matter.
Bontiff responded to Robinson saying that, according to a clause in the legislation, the Act does not come into effect until a notice with a date determined by the Attorney General is published in the gazette.
He said there is a difference between passing and publishing an Act and it being activated via the gazette.
“There must be a second publication,” he asserted.
Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh questioned why changes outlined in the Act appear to have been made if the legislation is not active.
Walsh however deferred her ruling on the submissions until March 6. If the magistrate sides with the prosecution, the matter will proceed to trial.
Events leading up to the arrest and charging of the former St George MP have made the rounds on social media in the form of a video.
It appears that the incident began as a result of a dispute between Jonas and the mother of one of his children over custody of that child.