By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A POLICE sergeant who was cleared of having sex with two underage girls returns to the Court of Appeal today where his acquittal will be challenged by prosecutors.
The Crown was granted leave by the Appeal Court on June 25 to challenge a magistrate’s acquittal of 43-year-old Juan Pratt on two charges of unlawful sexual intercourse.
Though defending attorney Murrio Ducille spent an hour arguing against the 1996 amended Court of Appeal Act, which allows magisterial orders and sentences to be challenged, the Appeal Court ruled that it had the jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
The hearing was initially set for September 12, though it was delayed until October 10 due to roof repairs at the court.
On the last occasion, Appeal Court president Justice Anita Allen recused herself from the appeal, as someone familiar to her has connections to Mr Pratt.
Mr Pratt, of Duke Drive, South Bahamia, is son of the country’s first female Deputy Prime Minister, Cynthia “Mother” Pratt.
Crown attorneys intend to argue that Freeport Deputy Chief Magistrate Helen Jones’ decision to acquit him of the two charges was unreasonable.
Prior to his acquittal in February 2010, it was alleged that at some time between May 5 and May 6, 2007, Mr Pratt had sex with two girls, ages 14 and 15, at his home.
The girls, who are wards of the state, were put in the care of Mr Pratt and his wife, who was off the island at the time of the alleged incident.
The prosecution produced no DNA evidence in the matter and closed its case in June 2009. In August of that year, Mr Ducille made a “no case submission” on behalf of his client, arguing that the prosecution had failed to produce a prima facie case against him.
Magistrate Jones ruled that the no-case submission had failed and that a prima facie case had been established.
Mr Pratt denied the allegations when he gave an unsworn statement in court. He said he took the girls to the bowling alley and gave them $20, then went home and fell asleep.
He said the girls came into his room and into the bed.
He testified that at no point did he have sex with them or touch them in any way.
In February 2010, Magistrate Jones acquitted Mr Pratt of the charges.