Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part II

Summary of Incidents on 18th November, 1973

Paragraphs 38 thru 42. - The Proceedings before the Magistrate's Court and the Supreme Court

38. Next day the Six were taken before the Magistrate's Court at Grenville, presided over by Mr. Irving I. Duncan. Three of the prisoners who had been wounded the previous day were in terrible condition, unwashed, bloody and bleeding. (See letter from Dr. Mahy, Appendix 2) [Not available for inclusion on this site] They were handcuffed together in pairs. Mr. Ben Jones, barrister-at-law, who is also a Senator of Grenada's Parliament, associate with Mr. Lloyd Noel, appeared on behalf of the Six. The Magistrate read out the charges from the charge sheets. Mr. Jones applied for bail, pointing out to the Magistrate that the charges were summary and under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code Cap. 77, bail had to be granted as of right.

The Magistrate made the amazing statement "We are not considering law here - You can say what you want. I am not granting bail." The Magistrate then proceeded to remand the prisoners in custody to the Richmond Hill prison for 8 days. He ordered that all the accused were to be seen by a doctor that day.

We called on the Magistrate, Mr. Duncan, to give evidence. He said that Mr. Jones had told a "fantastic lie" and that what had happened was that with the approval of Mr. Jones he had refused to grant bail so as to ensure the safety of the prisoners who would have been killed by a violent mob which had gathered outside the Court House. He contended that he had a discretion under the common law whether to grant or to refuse bail, irrespective of what was laid down in the Criminal Procedure Code, if he felt that the presence of the accused was likely to provoke a breach of the peace.

Mr. Duncan further stated that Mr. Nolan Jacobs, the Solicitor General was in court representing the police and he had opposed the granting of bail. Mr. Duncan said that he had invited Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Jones into his chambers and there it was agreed that he would refuse bail so that the prisoners could be taken by the police to the prison at Richmond Hill in St. Georges from where they could be transferred to the hospital for medical treatment.

Mr. Jacobs, the Solicitor General, who was called by us to testify, supported Mr. Duncan and informed us that a formula was agreed on in the Magistrate's chambers whereby Mr. Jones should "formally apply" for bail in open court and he would "formally oppose" the application and the Magistrate would then "formally refuse" bail and the prisoners would be told that they could then apply to a Judge of the Supreme Court for bail.

He [Nolan Jacobs] solemnly told us that they then proceeded to act this farce in open court.

As a result of the refusal of bail and the order remanding the prisoners to the Richmond Hill prison they were taken there and the evidence shows that they were not treated as remands but rather as prisoners serving sentences, in breach of the Prison Rules. Further, the Six were now put to the trouble and expense of having to make applications for bail to a Judge of the Supreme Court.

39. The applications went before Bishop J. (sic) the following day [20 November]. A number of eminent counsel appeared for the prisoners and the police were represented by Mr. Dennis Lambert, Director of Public Prosecutions and Mr. Nolan Jacobs, the Solicitor General.

Had there been any truth in the account of the proceedings before the Magistrate's court the previous day as related to us by Mr. Duncan and Mr. Jacobs it would be reasonable to assume that bail would not now have been opposed, but this was not to be. Bail was again opposed in the quiet and calm of the Judge's chambers without the presence of a hostile mob as at Grenville. The Judge ordered that bail be granted forthwith and he proceeded to put his judgment in writing. This judgment makes it clear that the Crown opposed bail not only in the Magistrate's court but in the Supreme Court.

But to make matters worse, no sooner had the order of Bishop, J. (sic) been complied with and the prisoners bailed than (sic) they were re-arrested on charged under another Section of the Firearms Ordinance (which make the granting of bail discretionary) on exactly the same facts which had founded the summary charges.

40. We reject entirely the lame and untruthful excuses which were given by the Magistrate, Mr. Irving Duncan and the Solicitor General, Mr. Nolan Jacobs. In our view, both men have shown themselves to be quite unfitted for the responsible posts they hold.

41. Notwithstanding the order of the Supreme Court, the Six were still held in custody on the new charges. Mr. Heyliger of counsel who was present when the Magistrate, Mr. Lloyd St. Louis took the recognizances for the bail of Bishop, Whiteman and Strachan at the hospital applied to him for fresh bail on the new charges. The application for bail was not opposed but Mr. St. Louis refused bail peremptorily. The Magistrate and the lawyers then went to the prison at Richmond Hill where the Magistrate took the bail recognizances for Radix, Daniel and Austin. They were immediately re-arrested for the indictable offences arising out of the same fact. Applications for bail were made then and there but were refused by Mr. St. Louis. This entailed a fresh set of applications to the Supreme Court, which were heard by the Chief Justice. He ordered that the Six be granted bail.

42. In our view Mr. Lloyd St. Louis ought to have granted bail in each case. He appears to have acted peremptorily and to have made no effort whatever to exercise his discretion in a balanced judicial manner. As mentioned earlier in this Report, he had erred very badly in the matter of Norbert St. Bernard. He exhibited a callous disregard for the liberty of the persons whose applications for bail he had treated so lightly. He acted without regard tot he Fundamental Rights and Freedoms section of the Constitution of Grenada and has shown himself to be unfitted for the responsible post of Magistrate.

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