BVI News

Lawyer peeved – nearly two years without evidence

Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards, former Director of Public Prosecutions Wayne Rajbansie, and former lawmaker Irene Penn-Oneal

Roughly a year has passed since the non-renewal of his contract as Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), but Wayne Rajbansie is facing a fresh wave of criticism in the territory over work left in his trail.

He is being accused of presenting no evidence to the Court of Appeal nearly two years ago when he filed a mere notice of intention to appeal a verdict that was handed down in a high profile gun case.

The notice to appeal was filed shortly after Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards, in July 2015, handed down a ‘not guilty’ verdict in a gun case the DPP had brought against former lawmaker Irene Penn-Oneal, her daughter Zubida O’Neal, and Shameek Grant.

Valerie Stephens-Gordon, who is the attorney that represented former legislator Penn-O’Neal, is happy that Justice Mario Mitchell yesterday struck the case off the Court of Appeal list.

But, in an interview with BVI News Online, the defence attorney lamented that her client was made to face virtually two years of uncertainty without a shred of evidence being presented to the Court of Appeal.

The lawyer stated that she remains convinced that there was no need for the then DPP, Rajbansie, to have appealed the ‘correct’ verdict handed down by Senior Magistrate Richards.

“We always feel that there were no bases to appeal this verdict; the senior magistrate was correct in the first place. And the document that they filed in the Court [of Appeal]; the justice of appeal said it was anonymity. So, justice has finally been done.”

“From the time she (Penn-O’Neal) was acquitted and they filed that notice of intention to appeal, they have not even presented grounds to say ‘this and this were wrong and etcetera [in relation to the ruling handed down by the senior magistrate],” the defence lawyer noted, adding that Senior Magistrate Richards had given a ‘thorough’ explanation for the not guilty verdict handed down.

BVI News Online asked what stance has been taken by the recently appointed DPP, Kim Hollis (QC), who has replaced Rajbansie. The defence attorney replied: “She (Hollis) didn’t really take any stance in it, because has not seen any evidence. But the document that Rajbansie filed was a notice of intention to appeal; it didn’t state any grounds or anything [for the appeal].”

RELIEVED

Before Penn-O’Neal and her two co-accused were freed of the gun charges, another man accepted responsibility for the illegal guns and bullets found in a house that was occupied by all persons charged. The confessed offender, Cordell O’Neal, is Penn-O’Neal’s son.

Since Cordell accepted responsibility for the illegal items, members of the public have been claiming that there possibly was a witch hunt in full swing to sink especially the former lawmaker, Penn-Oneal.

That claim was put to Penn-O’Neal’s lawyer, who responded: “I don’t know anything about that. But, legally, all I would say is that they (representatives of the Office of the DPP) had no basis to file anything against the decision that the senior magistrate made.”

She added that her client, Penn-Oneal, now feels relieved. “She is just relieved that this is over at last… It’s nearly two years that she has had to undergo this after the acquittal [in the Magistrate’s Court], and nothing – nothing was submitted [to the Court of Appeal]. So, we are really peeved about this.”

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