No prosecutors for trial, case thrown out

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Trevor Jones, left, and President Christine Kangaloo. –

A HIGH COURT judge has slammed the non-appearance of prosecutors in a decades-old case.

On March 18, Justice Trevor Jones dismissed the case against a man after state prosecutors failed to show up when the matter was set for trial.

“What I am not going to do is have your client wait for 19 years to resolve this matter because the State has failed to show up.

“There is no representation from the State and no courtesy of an explanation (from the Director of Public Prosecutions) as to the absence,” Jones, a former prosecutor, said as he told the accused he was free to go.

The hearing on March 18 took place at the court facility in Princes Town.

The judge provided a procedural history of the matter, which had been reassigned to him from another judge.

He said when the case reached his docket, his judicial support officer e-mailed the office of the DPP to tell the State a pre-trial hearing had been set for March 14. A Microsoft Teams link was sent to parties for the hearing, but, the judge said, everyone but the DPP’s office showed up.

Again, he said, his support staff sent e-mails to the DPP’s office with the judge’s orders.

“Today we are here. I have had no word from the DPP’s office. There is no representation of the State or courtesy of an explanation as to the absence. This cannot be tolerated.”

He also said if the victim in the case had still been interested in pursuing the matter – he earlier questioned her on oath and she said she was no longer interested – he would have begged the DPP’s office to have the trial started.

However, he said, “I can see no legal justification to have your client remain before me, charged for such a serious offence, when the State is showing no interest.”

Newsday understands, however, that Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, had said his office was unable to have prosecutors assigned to the new judges at this time.

Gaspard said he would get back to Newsday on what had happened.