New trial for man on 2014 assault charge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Maria Wilson –

MAGISTRATES are being reminded they should not be too anxious to dismiss a case without its going to trial, as the interest of justice will not be served.

The advice came from Justices of Appeal Mark Mohammed and Maria Wilson in an appeal by the State against a magistrate’s dismissal of a January 2014 assault charge against Taradath Bridgemohan on May 2, 2019.

At the magistrates’ court, the State’s case opened and closed on August 17, 2018, and was adjourned a few other times for various reasons.

On May 2, 2019, the police officer who charged Bridgemohan did not appear, and the magistrate dismissed the case.

At the appeal, the State argued the decision to dismiss the charge was unreasonable, particularly as it was a serious one which carried a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Nigel Pilgrim pointed to the guidance of former chief justice Michael de La Bastide that though the absence of the prosecutor was important, it should not be the only reason. He said there was no evidence the magistrate considered the public interest in the prosecution of a serious charge, nor did she exercise her discretion reasonably when the history of the matter was considered.

After hearing submissions from Bridgemohan’s attorney, the judges ordered his retrial before a new magistrate.