No police witnesses, charges dismissed

Magistrate Grace Donalds dismissed charges against a husband and wife after the two police officers in the case were not present for trial for the second time.

Defence Attorney Ailsa Williamson asked for the dismissal on behalf of her clients on Monday. They were charged after an incident in February 2007.

The husband was accused of using a vehicle with expired registration, no certificate of roadworthiness and no insurance. He was also charged with resisting arrest.

The wife was accused of permitting him to use the vehicle with the expired documentation. She was further charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing police when they came to arrest her husband.

Court records show the couple coming to court for the first time in August 2007. There were three more mentions before trial was set for 4 March, 2008.

Ms Williamson told the court that on 4 March the Crown asked for an adjournment because one of the police witnesses was no longer an officer and no longer on the island. ‘It seems no attempt was made to get him back,’ she commented. The second officer was on vacation and not advised of the trial date.

The March trial date was vacated and in May the date of 18 August was fixed for the trial as a priority matter. The Crown said at the time that the off-island witness would be flown back, Ms Williamson reported. ‘It appears no efforts have been made.’

Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees had asked for another trial date. She advised the court that the Crown Counsel dealing with the matter was in a Grand Court matter.

Ms Williamson said the charges were relatively minor. Ms Lees was extremely competent and could conduct the trial after reading the file over lunch. The difficulty was not with Crown Counsel, she suggested: ‘The difficulty is that no witnesses are here.’

The attorney pointed out that the female defendant is a civil servant who has had the matter hanging over her for the last 18 months; because of the charges against her, she had been unable to apply for any promotion.

Both husband and wife had made full complaints to the police department about the treatment they received from the officers, Ms Williamson said.

‘The Crown had two opportunities to get the witnesses to court. They failed on both occasions.’

The magistrate said that since it appeared this was the second trial date and no arrangements appeared to have been made to insure the officers’ attendance, she was minded to dismiss the charges for want of prosecution.

Two other charges against the husband, arising from incidents on other dates, were sent to another magistrate.