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Shane Gibson's Constitutional Relief Application Hearing Delayed

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Former Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson.

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

THE hearing into former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson's application for constitutional relief was adjourned by more than a month yesterday due to the "medical indisposition" of a key applicant in the matter.

Yesterday was marked for the continuation of Gibson's application for relief on the basis that a magistrate's lack of jurisdiction to grant bail according to the Bail Act is unconstitutional.

At the start of yesterday's proceedings, however, Fred Smith, QC, told Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson that he would be seeking an adjournment in the matter due to self-styled activist Omar Archer Sr suffering a broken leg following an incident with police on the weekend.

The senior attorney did not specify the circumstances surrounding how Archer sustained his injury, but said Archer's right leg --which he previously injured in another incident - is broken in two places.

And due to the injury, he previously sustained on the same leg, Mr Smith said the present injuries are much more complicated.

Mr Smith said Archer is currently wearing a temporary cast and is due to see an orthopaedic surgeon today.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Garvin Gaskins, representing the Crown in the matter along with Destiny McKinney, did not object to Mr Smith's request for an adjournment.

Justice Grant-Thompson consequently adjourned the matter to June 20.

On August 3, Gibson was arraigned in a Magistrate's Court on 36 bribery and extortion related charges: one count of misconduct in public office, 16 counts of bribery, two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion and 15 counts of extortion - all of these concerned with Jonathan Ash.

The number of bribery and extortion related charges were later decreased to 31, though the amount he is alleged to have solicited from Mr Ash remained the same.

Then just recently, the Crown announced its decision to drop all of the extortion charges against the former Golden Gates MP, with the DPP stating at the time that the decision was for the Crown to devote a "singular and simplified focus" on Gibson's bribery charges.

About an hour after his initial arraignment, Justice Grant-Thompson granted Gibson $40,000 bail with two sureties and on the condition he does not reoffend and attends his trial.

She did not impose any travel restrictions on Gibson, and neither was he required to surrender his travel documents or check into any police station.

Shortly after Gibson was granted bail, however, his attorney, Wayne Munroe, QC, shared his intention to reporters to challenge the constitutionality of Section 4 3A of the Bail Act which removes the jurisdiction of magistrates to grant bail in those circumstances.

In September 2017, during a mention hearing before Justice Grant-Thompson in connection with Gibson's bribery and extortion related charges, Mr Munroe sought to add several people to his client's initial notice of motion for constitutional relief.

Those people, Mr Munroe said at the time, would have been remanded for different periods of time and would not have had the luxury of having such an application filed on their behalf like Gibson.

Nonetheless, Mr Munroe said at the time that should the application prove successful, it could result in a "substantial liability of the state" that could potentially cause the government to pay "millions of dollars" in damages to those persons affected.

Gibson is not seeking any relief from the application, however, he remains on the application essentially as a respondent due to him being the original applicant.

Mr Smith, who also represents attorney Maria Daxon, has filed affidavits in connection with Gibson's constitutional relief application.

Mr Munroe told The Tribune previously that he and Mr Smith have agreed that their respective matters should be heard together, given they cover the same material.

Summer of 2016's amendment to the Bail Act made charges of intentional libel, assault, stealing and a number of other previously bailable offences non-bailable in Magistrate's Court which resulted in an increase in the number of persons being remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services and having to apply for a bond in the Supreme Court.

Additionally, the amendment did not return the power of magistrates to grant bail for the offences of drug possession with intent to supply, certain firearms matters, rape, housebreaking, attempted murder and threats of death.

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