BVI News

Justice system dismal: Dead persons’ matters being called in court

The Magistrate’s Court building in John’s Hole, Tortola.

At least two relatively old matters involving deceased persons have appeared on the court’s list in the past two weeks, causing the Magistrate Shawn Innocent to decry the increasingly recurring shortcomings of the judicial system locally.

The deceased person in one of those matters is a defendant (the person accused of a crime) while, in the other matter, the deceased person is said to be a complainant. One of those matters is at least three years old, the court heard.

In instances where a person dies during an active court case, a death certificate ought to be produced for the court to officially dispose of the matter.

No respect for the court

Magistrate Innocent, in the meantime, has said he believes the respect for the judicial system is going downhill in the territory.

“I sit here and I see people come in here and have no respect for the court’s system,” the magistrate said while noting the lack of cohesion among the key players in the territory’s criminal-justice system.

“There needs to be some cohesion [between the departments like the police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)] … Otherwise, it is going to create confusion for everybody. I’m not castigating anybody, it is just a systematic problem that needs to be addressed.”

His remarks also come at a time the Office of the DPP have repeatedly been appearing before the court to ask for adjournments for first-appearance matters because the defendants in those matters were not summoned to appear in court.

This problem arises because persons charged for minor offences are granted police bail to appear in the Magistrate’s Court at a later date. They, however, become hard to find when it’s time for their court appearance.

“Who started this foolishness about police bail? When you go and you release them … you have all the trouble hunting them down. That makes no sense,” said Magistrate Innocent who asserted that ‘police bail’ is not practised in the rest of the region.

He said a person should be brought before the court forthwith after they are charged with an offence. The magistrate further reasoned that those persons should only be offered bail ‘at court’.

“Until the system collapses, nobody going to do anything about it,” he said. “I should have become a priest because I find myself preaching a lot.”

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11 Comments

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  1. Fluffy says:

    Dontyou just love Magistrate Innocent?he tells it like it is.i wish he could stay longer than the three months.we would see a vast improvement in our court system.

    Like 28
  2. Really....... says:

    Look within your own court, mr judge, there lies much of the problems.

    Like 4
    Dislike 12
    • OLIE says:

      Really you dont like the truth that is why tortola is corrupt and full of violence listen to the truth

      Like 12
      • Hmm says:

        I guess no other place is corrupt or has violence. You need to open ur eyes. Also this magistrate is from St Lucia where people are in jail for over 16years without a trial. So who is he to talk. About people getting police bail. U deal with the courts the police will deal with whoever they see fit to give bail to.

        Like 1
        Dislike 2
  3. Django last for dinner says:

    It’s systemic, not systematic.

  4. Hark the harol says:

    To the powers that be please please extend Mr innocent contract for another three months before he really decide to become a priest

  5. Its a shame says:

    And the UK send in a DPP and this is the performance. Shameful! They want to run the whole country but can’t do what they are responsible for.

  6. Brad Boynes says:

    UK appointed DPP is here on a mission to lock up certain politicians and business people. The Magistrate is correct on this one.

  7. Ex Cop says:

    I remember the days when all you needed was the facts of the case the complaints and the matter goes before the court for first hearing. If the defendant plead guilty then the matter is quickly disposed of. If he/she pleads not guilty then the police is given adequate time to complete the file and ready for trial. Now the system appears to have change and changed for the worst. Everybody who is in charge of the ODPP wants their own rubber stamp to say “I was responsible for that change” whether it makes sense or not. Just sad.

  8. tys says:

    Incompetent counsel, judges, no discipline. Not turning up at court, filing incorrect and false documents. Barrister boasted not read documents at Court of appeal, judges kick can down the road and lawyers want an easy life taking the money

  9. Anonymous says:

    This country needs more policies to control these bad doings. Also a price control policy needs to come along with. Dur

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