By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN accused of threatening a prosecutor was yesterday granted bail ahead of his January 2015 murder trial when the Crown backtracked on their position on his bail application.
Tony Smith appeared before Justice Bernard Turner, where it was expected that his lawyer, Murrio Ducille, would make submissions on a request to probe a prosecutor’s claims that Smith threatened her with death.
This had been filed in the Supreme Court in an affidavit on September 12, but not served to Mr Ducille’s office.
However, Viola Barnett, a colleague of Darnelle Dorsett, the prosecutor who was allegedly threatened, informed Justice Turner that she was now dealing with Smith’s matter and that “the Crown will not be objecting for the application of bail.”
Ms Barnett went on to ask for a status hearing to be scheduled for September 29. The request prompted Justice Turner to inquire about the bail conditions imposed on Smith’s co-defendants in the case.
“I do not have that information at this time,” the prosecutor said.
“I’m just wondering,” Mr Ducille interjected, “having regard to all of the circumstances with this matter, would the conditions be necessary?”
Justice Turner said that such information was needed when taking into account the nature of the offence Smith was facing.
The judge then addressed Barnett and asked: “Is there a possibility after next week that this matter will be disposed of?”
“There is a possibility,” the prosecutor responded.
After a minute’s pause, the judge said: “Having regard to the course taken by the Crown, the court exercises its discretion to grant bail to the applicant in the sum of $8,000 with one suretor and the condition that Smith appears in court on September 29, 2014.”
Smith, aka Jamal Penn, is scheduled to stand trial with Leroy Smith and Leslie Bowe in connection with the murder of Eugene Stuart on March 2, 2012.
A week ago, Mr Ducille submitted that his client was a fit candidate for bail. The lawyer noted that his client’s co-accused, Leroy Smith, was also on bail and has a presumption of innocence.
The trial is the applicant’s only pending matter before the court. He added that his client intends to relocate to Grand Bahama where he has landed a job.
Mr Ducille also noted that his client was not a flight risk and had been in custody since March 2012.
Mr Ducille informed Justice Turner that he brought the issue to the attention of Senior Justice Jon Isaacs regarding the integrity of the claims, which he found out about through reading the September 15 edition of The Tribune.
Prosecutor Sandradee Gardiner, in response, noted that Ms Dorsett’s affidavit was intended to be exhibited in a supplemental affidavit regarding the Crown’s response to the application for bail.
She noted that there was a fear that the accused, if released from remand, would not only interfere with prosecutors, but also witnesses in the case.
She also noted that there was no unreasonable delay in the case and that trial was scheduled within the three-year limit set out by the court.
However, the defence lawyer said it was “very disturbing” and “tantamount” to prejudicing his client’s constitutional right to a fair trial by jury.
Justice Turner asked Mr Ducille if he found it “peculiar” that his office was the only legal entity in the matter to have not received the affidavit, which was filed on September 12.
Mr Ducille said he not only found it “peculiar”, but asked the court for leave to cross-examine Ms Dorsett in addition to other witnesses mentioned in the affidavit as having been present when the allegations were brought to light.
Justice Turner, however, said he did not want to hear and consider arguments for the request until yesterday’s adjourned date for the bail hearing.