Lawyers involved in the Oscar Bartholomew Coroner have been urged to have their final statements, if any, on the behalf of their clients, ready to be made before the 6-member jury at the next sitting of the court, which is scheduled for September 22.
District Coroner, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis, who is hoping to complete the matter before the end of the year, made the request when the inquiry into Bartholomew’s death continued last week Friday at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court.
The sitting saw the last of the five police officers, Rural Constable (RC) Wendell Sylvester, presenting his side of what transpired on that dreadful day in December 2011.
RC Sylvester was previously represented by Attorney-at-law, Peter David who was also retained by fellow police officers and co-accused – Police Constables 675 Shaun Garness and 748 Kenton Hazzard.
However, due to what was described as a conflict of interest, Attorney David withdrew his services and the Marlmount, St. David resident, was advised to seek another counsel.
He retained attorney Nigel Stewart from the sister isle of Carriacou to assist him in the matter.
During last week’s sitting of the Coroner’s Inquest, Sylvester was accompanied by his attorney, who requested that the court grant him enough time to review the documents, given that he was recently instructed by his client in the matter.
The State prosecution, which is being led by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Christopher Nelson also brought back one of its witnesses, Tevin Thomas, for the purpose of clearing up some misunderstandings in the evidence that he had already provided to the court.
The Court took the decision to reserve time on the next occasion for cross examination of 675 Garness, by attorney Stewart, who was not on the case when his evidence was taken.
Back in 2012, RC Sylvester along with Police Constables 748 Kenton Hazzard, 675 Garness, 327 Rudy Felix and 649 Edward Gibson were charged with Manslaughter after they were suspected of beating the 49-year-old Grenadian-born Canadian citizen into a fatal coma at the St. David’s Police Station.
The altercation occurred on December 26, 2011, (Boxing Day), after Bartholomew bear-hugged a plainclothes police woman, whom he allegedly mistook for a long-time friend.
Bartholomew was vacationing on island with his Canadian wife who reportedly went into the police station to use the washroom facilities.
He was taken into custody and ended up in hospital after the alleged beating inside the station.
A Coroner’s Inquiry was ordered based on a March 2013 order from High Court Judge, Justice Septimus Rudd, who squashed the Manslaughter charges laid against the officers and opted for a Coroner’s Inquest to take place in keeping with Section (9) of the pre-Constitutional Coroner’s Act.
DPP Nelson, QC filed an appeal with the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal into Justice Rudd’s judgment.
The Court of Appeal has since ruled in favour of the DPP, who recently informed the Coroner of his decision to continue the Inquest despite the ruling in his favour.
The Coroner’s Inquest, which commenced in April 2013, is expected to determine the circumstances under which Bartholomew died, where he died, whether it was by accident or an act of violence.
The officers who were originally suspended from active duties were reinstated into the police force based on the ruling of Justice Rudd.