By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.