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Gun Charges Dropped 'For National Security'

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

THE Acting Attorney General who signed a written directive to have gun and ammunition charges against a couple discontinued says he did so because it was a matter of national security.

Jerome Fitzgerald, appointed as Acting AG in the event that the Attorney General is out of the country, said that his review of the file relating to George and Janice Hayes led to him concluding that the matter should be discontinued.

The charges were discontinued on Friday.

In a statement released afterwards, Mr Fitzgerald said: “On the 28th day of November 2012, Mrs Allyson Maynard-Gibson, the Attorney General, left the jurisdiction of The Bahamas on Government business.

“In the absence of the Attorney General I acted as Attorney General. During the absence of Mrs Maynard-Gibson, I reviewed the file relating to Janice Hayes and George Hayes and satisfied myself that it was appropriate to discontinue the prosecution.

“As a consequence, I executed a nolle prosequi. This is a matter of national security and as a consequence I have no further comment on this subject.”

The couple each faced a charge of possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition.

It was claimed that on February 3, 2010 the two were found in possession of a .380 pistol and 19 live rounds of ammunition for the weapon.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges at their arraignment days after their arrest in 2010. They continued to deny the allegations against them.

On December 21, their attorney was expected to make a closing address to the court concerning the evidence brought against her clients.

However, prosecutor ASP Ercel Dorsett brought correspondence from the Attorney General’s office giving a directive to discontinue proceedings.

The nolle prosequi was rejected by the deputy chief magistrate because the document was not dated and it was not clear who had signed it.

She asked the prosecutor to send the document back and adjourned the case to December 28.

Last Friday, Garvin Gaskin, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, appeared before the court and said the issues that had arisen concerning the document had been rectified.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell inspected the document and asked Mr Gaskin who the Acting Attorney General was who had signed the directive.

“The Acting Attorney General at the time was Jerome Fitzgerald,” said Mr Gaskin.

The magistrate addressed the couple and told them of the document’s contents.

However, she said, the matter could be brought back at any time the Attorney General wished as the pair were not acquitted, only discharged.

Comments

Guy 1 year, 9 months ago

Private citizens (who happened to be, at the time, clients of the current AG) had guns found in their homes by the police. The matter goes to trial. Their former attorney happens to be out of the country on the 28th of November (on govt. business...hmmm.) then the acting AG enters a Nolle and have them discharged because it is a matter of NATIONAL SECURITY??? Someone, somewhere really take the Bahamian people for fools! We must demand a better explanation than this! I guess we call it a national security issue so that the defense for nontransparency is it is in the national interest to remain mute on the matter. Boy I tell ya...PLP in power.

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242smt 1 year, 9 months ago

Guy, completely agree. Unacceptable. What does this say to Bahamians and the rest of the world? That the justice system and the Bahamian govt is a joke. Heads would roll if this happened in Canada, UK, USA, etc. Actually, I don't think that an AG in Canada, UK, USA, etc. would even have the nerve to try something like this, knowing they would never get away with it. The Bahamas is becoming a real banana republic.

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dahasamo 1 year, 9 months ago

Why the "acting" AG -- what happened to the Minister of State in the AG's office?

What National Security?. This sounds very much like the reasons given by Cheney and his ilk for the abuse of civil liberties after the terrorist attacks US.

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JohnDoe 1 year, 9 months ago

And we wonder why there is a sub-culture of lawlessness in this country. If the AG's office can be so blatant in its disregard for the Rule of Law, then why should John Doe feel any different.

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TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

Comrades where is the evidence that the acting AG was not acting in the best interests of Bahamaland's National Security?

Even the red shirts wouldn't dare suggest this was all done for politics?

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JohnDoe 1 year, 9 months ago

Well if possession of a 38 and a couple bullets rises to the level of national security interest for our country then may God help us. All the evidence points to a simple gun possession case and the law is clear and unambiguous on the constituent parts of that crime and the consequences. We are supposed to be a modern international civilised society protected by the Rule of Law. This doctrine has always been an unbiased barometer in determining the quality and good governance of a country. Under this doctrine a basic tenet is that all private persons are equal under the law, that laws are clear and the process to enact the laws are transparent. A further basic tenet is that that interference by government officials in the Law diminishes the rule of law in a society. In our system, with respect to the Law, the AG's office represents Society and the People not their personal or political interest. When the image of the AG's office becomes tarnished it tarnishes our Society and the Rule of Law in our Society.

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real_talk 1 year, 9 months ago

BS at it's best!!! I wonder who thier people is,becase if it was me or anybody i know,we probably would of almost finish our jail sentences. Two types of law,(one for the rich and one for the poor).......If you don;t laugh you will cry! What a damn shame.

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Mayaguana34 1 year, 9 months ago

justice may be blind but she sure looks out for her own - What is scary is that there are files being lost - evidence disappearing, cases not being called and other manipulations of our system that we will never hear about - There should be no surprises when politics meets money ..... You or I would have been on remand until our day in court - They pulled off a no contest from the comfort of their living room - I am well impressed!

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mobis 1 year, 3 months ago

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges at their arraignment days after their arrest in 2010. They continued to deny the allegations against them. It was claimed that on February 3, 2010 the two were found in possession of a .380 pistol and 19 live rounds of ammunition for the weapon. [tension causes rib pain][1] [1]: http://painunderrightribcage.net/rib-pain-caused-by-anxiety

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