Constitutional challenge against criminal libel charges in trial


Tribune Staff Reporter


A MAGISTRATE yesterday adjourned a lawyer’s criminal libel trial pending a motion to determine whether the charges brought against her are a breach of her constitutional rights.

Maria Daxon, a former police constable and vocal defender for the rights of police officers, appeared before Magistrate Andrew Forbes for the expected start of her summary trial concerning two counts of intentional libel concerning alleged statements written about Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Bethell.

When the matter was called, however, police prosecutor Supt Ercell Dorsett sought an adjournment of the proceedings due to the unavailability of the complainants.

Magistrate Forbes granted the request but said it would be the final adjournment of the matter as it was unfair to the accused.

This was the second adjournment in the matter. When the case was called in December 2016, there was confusion as to whether police prosecution or the Office of the Attorney General would handle prosecution of the case.

Fred Smith, QC, who appeared on Daxon’s behalf yesterday, said he intended to file a motion in the Supreme Court challenging the intentional libel charge against his client.

As a result, the matter was adjourned to November 29.

It is alleged that Daxon, between August 26 and August 30, 2016 wrote defamatory statements about Commissioner Greenslade and ACP Bethell, which were likely “to injure and expose” the officers to “general hatred, contempt or ridicule.”

In her initial arraignment last September, Daxon elected to have the matter heard in Magistrate’s Court and pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

She was initially denied bail but a day later her lawyers, Glendon Rolle and Wilver Deleveaux successfully applied for bail in the Supreme Court.

Daxon remains on $100 bail.

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