Magistrate Shawn Innocent has threatened to imprison members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) as well as attorneys from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for what can be described as malpractice and a gross maladministration of justice.
He made the threat on Monday during a matter against Brian Brewley who is on trial for assault occasioning actual bodily harm on a teenage boy.
The threat stemmed from the discovery that a written statement — which prosecutors claimed to be that of Brewley’s — was presented to the court as evidence even though Brewley’s signature was not affixed to the document.
A signature would act as proof that Brewley had accepted that he was, in fact, the author of the statement.
Stephen Daniels, who is representing Brewley, discovered that his client’s signature was not affixed to the statement when a female police officer was using excerpts from the document to testify against the accused man.
A closer look at the statement showed that Brewley’s full name was written at the top of the document. Nevertheless, the signature line was empty.
“There is a difference between printing my name and my signature,” Daniels argued while pointing out the stark prosecutorial blunder.
Upon hearing this, the magistrate accused the RVIPF and the Office of the DPP of misleading the court.
“I am seeing a number of these documents coming to the court and none of them is witnessed or signed. If it happens again … or [someone] tells me somebody sign something and they did not sign it, everybody going to jail including the lawyer,” a seemingly irate Magistrate Innocent said.
Cop forges signature of defendant
A similar incident reportedly happened on Friday, when, under oath, another police officer told the court that a prosecutor had asked him to sign the signature of a defendant. The police officer admitted that he signed for the defendant moments before coming to testify as a Crown witness against the said defendant.
The forged signature was signed on to a compact disc — more commonly known as a CD — which had a recording of the defendant’s interview with police.
The court was told that the investigating officer in the matter had died and the original CD containing the defendant’s audiovisual interview could not be found.
Police reportedly had copies of the interview on a new, unsigned CD so they and the office of the DPP moved to submit this new CD into evidence without the knowledge of the court.
In order to do this, however, the new CD had to be signed by the defendant. A prosecutor, therefore, asked the police officer in question to sign on behalf of the defendant, unbeknown to anyone.
This is not my signature!
The matter came to light after the defendant stood in court and said that signature on the CD did not belong to her.
The prosecutor — who was involved in both this matter and the one involving Brewley — was therefore strongly chastised.
“In view of an incident that occurred in this courtroom [on Friday], I would have thought that after that incident occurred that somebody would have taken due notice and govern themselves accordingly. [But] somebody is trying to make a mockery of this court,” Magistrate Innocent said following the Brewley incident this week.
The magistrate had subsequently ruled that Brewley’s unsigned statement ought not to be accepted into evidence.
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