By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY Wayne Munroe hopes phone records help vindicate embattled MICAL MP V Alfred Gray from allegations that he intimidated an island administrator into releasing a young man from prison who had just been sentenced.
Mr Gray denies Mayaguana Administrator Zephaniah Newbold’s claims that he threatened the administrator with a transfer if he did not release the accused teen, according to an affidavit obtained by The Tribune.
Mr Newbold, in a letter sent to Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt, alleged that after sentencing Jaquan Charlton to three months imprisonment for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, he received a call from an “angry” Mr Gray, ordering him to immediately release Charlton.
Mr Gray abruptly hung up the phone, Mr Newbold said in a letter obtained by The Tribune, adding that the Cabinet minister later called back and threatened to have him transferred if he failed to heed his order. Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr Munroe said this issue could devolve into a case of “he say versus he say” if not for phone records that he believes exposes problems with Administrator Newbold’s narrative.
According to Mr Newbold, between the first and second call Mr Gray made to him, he spoke to a police officer identified as Assistant Superintendent T Newbold who then contacted her superiors.
“She was advised to contact Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson Pratt,” Mr Newbold’s letter to the magistrate says, adding: “ASP Newbold contacted (the) chief magistrate and I was able to speak with the chief magistrate on the matter. She advised me to uphold my conviction, stating that there should be no interference from the executive in such judicial matters.”
“Mr Gray called back and stated that he instructed Ms Charlton (the teen’s mother) to write a letter to me stating that they wished to appeal the matter . . .Mr Gray once again ordered me to have Mr Charlton released. He also made certain remarks to me suggesting that I would be moved (transferred) if this did not happen,” Mr Newbold’s letter said.
Mr Newbold wrote that after this, he asked for Mr Charlton to be brought back into his court and he ordered his release, “while acting through fear and trepidation.”
According to phone records seen by The Tribune, calls from Mr Gray to Mr Newbold took place for about three minutes with a one-minute gap between the first and second call. The first call was one minute long and the second call was two minutes.
In his affidavit, Mr Gray alleges that given this chronology of events, it would not have been possible for the administrator to speak to a prosecutor who then spoke to both a superior and the chief magistrate before speaking again to the administrator.
A police source yesterday declined to say if authorities sought phone records relevant to the case.
Mr Munroe was contacted for comment about the documents obtained by The Tribune.
He said: “The first call was at 10.54 (am), which the phone records show was a minute. The other call would’ve been for about two minutes and there was one minute between the calls. If you read (Mr Newbold’s) letter he said the prosecutor called Nassau, spoke to her superiors who then turned around and gave him advice. The chief magistrate was then called. My question is: could all of that have happened between two calls to him by Mr Gray that were separated by one minute? I don’t know if police check outgoing phones records but if all those things could happen in a minute then there would be an issue here but I don’t think they can.”
In March, the opposition Free National Movement alleged that Mr Gray used his position to have Charlton, 19, freed, following conviction and sentencing.
Mr Gray has strongly denied that he in any way attempted to sway the course of justice. Police subsequently interviewed Mr Gray on the matter on April 10.
In his affidavit, Mr Gray said he contacted Mr Newbold on March 19, after he got a call from Mr Charlton’s mother, Natasha Charlton, his constituent. He said she told him her son had been injured during an altercation with police and thought his arm was broken and wanted Mr Gray’s help in securing medical attention for her son.
He said he called the administrator after receiving a letter of appeal from Ms Charlton. The administrator, he said, quickly told him to call him back in two minutes.
When he called back, Mr Gray said: “I told him that he could permit the young man bail pending his appeal as that was in his jurisdiction to do so.
“I totally deny the administrator’s report wherein he indicated that I ordered the man to be released,” Mr Gray’s affidavit said.
The police file was turned over to the Attorney General’s Office on Monday.