Don’t fight in bars, judge warns

After directing the jury to find Adrian Andrew Bodden not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm, Justice Priya Levers warned him not to get involved in bar fights again – ‘whether it’s your fault or not.’

If there is a temptation to fight, he should walk away. ‘It’s better to be humiliated than to show your strength in a fight that may end you up here (in court), rightly or wrongly,’ the judge said.

Bodden’s trial had shown him what happens when he gets involved in fights in bars, she indicated.

The charges against him arose from an incident at a George Town bar on a Friday night in August 2006. The injured man suffered from a stab wound, about four inches long, to the side of his neck and a stab wound to his left wrist and left side of the abdomen.

Bodden had a one-inch cut to his palm, a cut on his wrist and a smaller cut on his right middle finger.

The judge said it was clear that a fight took place. But as to who started it and what happened and how it happened, ‘we do not know because the Prosecution witnesses did not come up to proof in their evidence.’

Those witnesses gave their evidence last week Wednesday. At the end of the day, Defence Attorney Phillip McGhee submitted that there was no case for Bodden to answer. Justice Levers considered the matter overnight and gave her decision on Thursday morning.

She agreed with Mr. McGhee that the injured man had contradicted himself in his account of what had happened. Then he had been contradicted by other Crown witnesses.

The judge also agreed with Crown Counsel Nichole Petit that, when the Prosecution’s case depends on the view to be taken of the witness’ reliability, the judge should allow the matter to be tried by the jury.

But, in questioning Prosecution witnesses, Mr. McGhee had put forward Bodden’s defence of self-defence. His version of events had Bodden carrying his bottle of beer with him when he went to the men’s room. As soon as he came out the door, he was punched in the face. He hit back and, unfortunately for the other man, still had the bottle in his hand.

The judge, in her decision to direct the not guilty verdict, said the Crown had never established what caused the injuries to the complainant, or how they were caused. There was not a scintilla of evidence to negative the defence of self-defence.

If she called on Bodden to answer the case against him, it would be a reversal of the burden of proof, which belongs to the Prosecution.

In his no-case submissions, Mr. McGhee noted there was no evidence of police going into the bar when they responded to a call about the fight. Apparently they did not go inside until the next morning, by which time the scene of the incident had been cleaned up.