BVI News

Lack of court equipment causes further delay in 3yo cocaine case

The three-year-old trial against David Straker, Donald George, Anderson Flax, and Lindon Chiverton — the four men who were allegedly caught at sea with 80 kilograms of cocaine — has reached another delay.

On Monday, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kim Hollis made an application for key overseas witnesses, who were present on the day in question, to give their evidence to the Magistrate’s Court via video conference call.

The DPP argued that in so doing, the territory will not have to find the funds to pay for the travelling expenses or for any costs associated with the case.

Fly them in

Attorney-at-law Patrick Thompson who is representing Flax did not raise objections. However, the other defence attorney Marlon Gordon, who represents the other three accused men, objected to the Crown’s application.

He argued that he wanted the two witnesses, who now reside in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, to be flown into the territory to give their evidence to the court in person.

He said the court will be able to see their reactions, gestures and, essentially, will be able to be properly cross-examined in open court.

He argued that, if they are on video, the only expressions that can be seen would be their faces.

He said if they are fidgeting, trembling or uneasy, it would be hard to see as “this is a staged position”.

No urgency in this matter

Gordon also accused the Office of the DPP of being responsible for the constant delays in the part-heard trial.

“There is no real urgency on the DPP’s part. They are coming with the same song since 2016. Well, I guess this is a Christmas carol,” he stated.

However, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards said she disagreed with Gordon.

“This technology (video-link) is being used all over the world,” she said.

The senior magistrate then asked the defence attorney for the necessary legal authorities to support his argument. He ordered that these authorities be submitted to the court this week.

Video-link equipment not yet ready

In the meantime, the senior magistrate said that the court was not yet furnished with the necessary equipment to facilitate a video-link testimony.

She said the necessary equipment will be installed during the upcoming holiday season sometime in late December to early January when the court is scheduled to be briefly closed.

The matter was subsequently adjourned to January 21, next year.

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