Defense Attorney Stephen Daniels has described the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ actions in the matter involving a client as an ‘abuse’ of the judicial process after they submitted ‘inaccurate information’ during their sentencing guidelines.
Cornelius Fontaine of Dominica and his Vincentian co-accused Deverson Williams were charged with possession of proceeds of criminal conduct after they were allegedly found on Tortola travelling with $52,000 which was said to be amassed through gambling.
Fontaine pleaded guilty while Williams entered a not guilty plea during their first appearance before the court.
In light of Fontaine’s guilty plea, prosecutors were required to submit guildlines to the court on how the confessed offender should be sentenced.
When those guidelines were submitted and reviewed in court this week, the information outlined within the document and the facts Fontaine previously pleaded guilty to, were oddly different.
“They were not the facts that Fontaine agreed to,” said Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo before subsequently deciding in the interest of justice to change Fontaine’s plea to ‘not guilty’.
Despite prosecutors providing new sentencing guidelines reflecting the real facts of the case, Magistrate Baptiste-DaBreo opted to recuse herself from the matter. She reasoned that, in light of the circumstances, the matter ought to be presided over by a different magistrate with a fresh and unsullied perspective.
The matter was then adjourned to April 11.
In the meantime, Fontaine remains at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.
What the court heard happened
The court heard that police were on mobile patrol on February 6 when they received information that led them to intercept a red Suzuki Grand Vitara that the accused men were said to be travelling in.
A search of the vehicle uncovered a red computer bag stashed behind the driver’s seat containing the cash.
When questioned, the duo reportedly denied knowledge of the cash, but Fontaine said the bag which contained the money belonged to him. They were subsequently arrested and charged.
During a subsequent police interview, Fontaine reportedly admitted to police that the cash belonged to him. However, he refused to disclose the source of the money or why it was in his possession.
When interviewed, Williams said the cash did not belong to him, and he had no prior knowledge of the monies. In court, Fontaine’s attorney Stephen Daniels told the court that the funds were proceeds of his client’s gambling at the race track.
Fontaine was denied bail pending his sentencing while his co-accused was granted $80,000 bail.
Attorney Reynella Rawlins represents Williams.
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