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Social Media Commentator Remanded

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

SOCIAL media commentator Gorman Bannister was remanded to prison yesterday over allegations he intentionally defamed ex-Cabinet minister Tennyson Wells in a series of voice notes.

When he was arraigned before Senior Magistrate Derrence Rolle-Davis yesterday, Bannister, 65, denied allegations he distributed voice notes on Facebook and/or WhatsApp on May 2, 2018, which made damaging claims about Mr Wells and his wife, Stephanie.

Nonetheless, the Crown claims Bannister made those posts about Mr and Mrs Wells in a bid to defame their character, thereby subjecting them to “general hatred, contempt or ridicule”.

Bannister also pleaded not guilty to one count of misuse of the telecommunications system. It is alleged that sometime between January and this month, he posted more than 30 images and words on his Facebook pages “Black Belt Leaks”, “Black Belt News”, and “Gorman Bannister” via electronic devices, a mobile phone and/or personal computer, in a bid to depict Oswald Poitier as a homosexual; to suggest the man is a paedophile; to show a personal image and video of his residence; to make degrading comment about Mr Poitier’s parents; and to suggest that Mr Poitier “just kill himself”.

And, the Crown alleges, claims were posted to Mr Poitier’s “annoyance”.

Given Bannister’s not guilty pleas, the matters were adjourned to September 17 for trial. For the misuse of the telecommunications system charge, Bannister was granted $1,500 bail with one suretor. However, given the nature of the first two counts of intentional libel, bail was denied and he was remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) in the interim. He has a right to apply to the Supreme Court for bail. Bannister is represented by attorney Roberto Reckley.

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