Mothers ordered to pay after sons’ bail were forfeited win appeal

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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TWO mothers who stood as surety for their sons will not have to pay a portion of the bail sums after their sons failed to appear in court for their cases.

Bail is a pre-trial release and it is the responsibility of the surety to ensure the accused person attends court at every hearing until the case is determined.

If the accused person fails to attend court, the bail bond is forfeited and a summons to show cause is issued to the surety to attend court to say why they should not have to pay the entire bail sum or a portion.

This was the position of Hazel Ann Straker Cox and Bernadette Drakes, both of whom were issued summonses to show cause in separate matters when their sons failed to attend court and were both ordered to pay a portion of the bail amount.

Both women appealed and the State, represented by deputy DPP Joan Honore-Paul, did not resist either woman’s appeal at a hearing of San Fernando magisterial appeals on Thursday.

Justices of Appeal Mark Mohammed and Maria Wilson allowed both women’s appeals and set aside the orders of the respective magistrates so they no longer have anything to pay.

In Cox’s case, her son left home after claiming he could not stay there because the police threatened to kill him. She told him he could not leave because she took bail for him and even went to a justice of the peace to be removed as his surety.

She also said she visited Port of Spain several times looking for him until she found him on the Brian Lara Promenade and convinced him to return home.

She even contacted the police to facilitate his arrest after a bench warrant was issued for him when his bail was revoked.

Honore-Paul said Cox’s actions demonstrated she did all she could have done.

In Drakes’s case, a similar summons was issued to her after her son missed his court date.

Her lawyer Ravi Bunsee and Honore-Paul said in her matter she accepted responsibility for her son and explained that she worked two jobs and on the morning he was supposed to attend court, she tried calling him on the phone and when she did not reach him, she left work and told him he had to go to court.

He eventually did but was told a warrant had already been issued for his arrest.

Honore-Paul read from a ruling which provided guidance to judicial officers in cases where summonses have been issued to sureties to show cause. She said if the surety was found to have connived, aided and abetted the absence, then either the entire sum or a portion of the bail should be forfeited. She said the guidance suggested the court had to look at the degree of fault when coming to a decision.