By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY General John Delaney exerted his constitutional powers yesterday when he ordered an annulment of a multi-billionaire's private prosecution of eight persons in Magistrate's Court.
Louis Bacon, Jerry Forrester, Bradley Pratt, Timothy Sawa, Morris Karp, Bob McKeon, Pericles Maillis and Mary Brathwaite, were going to be prosecuted by Canadian Peter Nygard.
Mr Nygard claims the eight persons, on two occasions, conspired to, attempted to accuse and threatened to accuse him of an infamous offence in order to extort money from him.
He claims that these actions were done by these individuals with intent to remove boundaries and a sign that would allow them access to a road on his property.
The Lyford Cay resident's last claim is that they intentionally libelled him.
These were the charges expected to be read by Magistrate Weech-Gomez to the eight accused yesterday.
However, an instant notice by deputy director of public prosecutions Franklyn Williams to annul the case before it was even called by Magistrate Jeanine Weech-Gomez prompted a heated discussion among six attorneys and the Magistrate as whether he could do so.
At the end of the hour-long discussion, Mr Williams was able to have the case discontinued against all of the individuals, on an order issued and signed by Attorney General Delaney.
Following the proceedings that involved Mr Williams, Elliot Lockhart, and John Henry Bostwick Sr pitted against Koed Smith and Alfred Sears on the procedural issue, Mr Sears and Mr Smith spoke to the press about what had occurred in court.
"At the commencement of the proceeding, Mr Franklyn Williams from the office of the Attorney General came and he informed the court that the Attorney General was entering what was known as a nolle prosequi, to stop the prosecution."
"We obtained a copy that he gave to the Magistrate. He indicated to the Magistrate that the proceeding was being stopped against all of the defendants who were charged.
"We have just obtained a copy of the nolle and it is under the signature of the attorney general."
Former attorney general Alfred Sears found it interesting that the order did not discontinue proceedings against Louis Bacon.
"As you can see, it says here now these are to authorise and require you to enter into the record, a statement that the proceedings against Jerry Forrester, Bradley Pratt, Timothy Sawa, Morris Karp, Bob McKeon, Pericles Maillis, and Mary Brathwaite is to be discontinued by my direction."
He said the questioned to be determined now is: "What about the charges against Louis Bacon?"
Mr Smith added his thoughts on the proceedings and what will happen next.
"The proceedings will continue against Mr Bacon. Obviously there's a charge sheet, the nolle is issued with respect to those individuals who the procedure are said to be discontinued against. And so whomever is left is obviously still before the courts for the purposes of these proceedings."
He added that they might have to make changes to their application to amend the charge sheet, but would proceed nonetheless under the advice of their client.
"What was demonstrated in here today makes me very concerned that the Attorney General in his executive capacity, is allowing himself to be used as a sword for Mr Bacon and the persons on the charge sheet."
"It is record time that a nolle was issued in these proceedings and as you would've seen yourself in the court today, the attempt was being made to block any possibility of this matter even being called up, let alone continued."
Mr Smith said the charges are legitimate, but they still accept the ability of the Attorney General to discontinue charges.
"The one thing which we need to keep in mind, the issue of a nolle does not mean that the matter is at an end in an absolute sense because even the attorney general can in fact bring these charges against these individuals again."
He concluded that because the nolle is not absolute, there are other available options.
The Tribune spoke with Mr Delaney yesterday. He said that yesterday's annulment was not uncommon in the courts and was done because "we try to ensure that the criminal courts are not used for private matters."
He said this case happened to be one of them that, "upon advice from my department," was discontinued.
When asked why only action was discontinued against all individuals except Mr Bacon, he said: "As far as I recall, the matter in its entirety was discontinued."
He referred The Tribune to the prosecutor who dealt with the matter for a copy of the annulment, however calls were not returned up to press time.