DPP’s office under fire for tardiness

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard,SC, –

PROSECUTORS have been warned by the Court of Appeal to get their act together and be prepared when they come to court.

The advice came from Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Gregory Smith and Vasheist Kokaram after prosecutors asked for time to rebut the evidence of an expert witness in the appeal of a Tobago man convicted in May 2019 for a 2009 murder at Lowlands, Tobago.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and assistant DPP Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal incurred the wrath of the judges. who said they were “disturbed” that the State had come to court “unprepared” to cross-examine psychiatrist Dr Gerard Hutchinson.

“The State is never ready. Today is only the second day of the new law term and we were hoping the State would have gotten its act together,” Yorke-Soo Hon said.

She said the State was guilty of the late filing of submissions and “always some long excuse.”

“I know your department is pressed but you can’t be holding up the court.”

In calling for this “type of performance to stop,” Yorke-Soo Hon said when cases are delayed, the court takes the blame.

“When the public hears a matter does not go on, or about delays, everyone is jumping on the court’s back…The parties rarely get the blame.

“We are concerned about this type of action, as it does not advance the interest of justice. We want to communicate to you and the DPP himself, and the entire department, we will not tolerate the way in which the DPP department is undertaking its duties.

“We trust this will not happen again.”

She also accused the DPP’s department of being “experts in apologies.”

“I have heard the most eloquent apologies…Do not anticipate the court. Come ready,” was the judge’s advice.

Although the judges granted the adjournment on the cross-examination of Hutchinson, they did hear submissions on the other grounds of appeal filed by attorneys for Peter Radgman, of Pembroke, whom Justice Kathy Ann Waterman-Latchoo had sentenced to hang for the murder of Kooldip Maharaj.

The body of Maharaj, also known as Rishi Maharaj, of Old Clarke Trace, Barrackpore, Trinidad, was found at an apartment on June 13, 2009. He had been beaten with a tool known as a “pig foot.”

Radgman, 61, was later held for the murder.

In submissions on Tuesday, Radgman’s attorney Bindra Dolsingh canvassed the other grounds of appeal, including diminished responsibility and provocation.

The appeal has been adjourned to November 10.