Coroner’s Inquest set for May 13

Ruddy Felix – the Diarist on duty at the time

Ruddy Felix – the Diarist on duty at the time

The pieces have been put together for the possible start on May 13 of the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Grenadian-born Peter Oscar Bartholomew on December 27, 2011.

The 39-year old Bartholomew who gained Canadian Citizenship was at the time visiting his homeland with his French-speaking Canadian wife, Dollette Cyr Bartholomew when he was allegedly beaten at the St. David’s Police Station at Petit Esperance on December 26, 2011 by a group of Police Officers, and subsequently died the following morning at the General Hospital as a result of the injuries he sustained.

A post-mortem conducted by pathologist, Dr. Nicholas Redhead concluded that the Grenadian-born Canadian died from trauma to the head with multiple skull fractures, subdual hemorrhage, and increased intracranial pressure.

Five Police Officers, 649 Edward Gibson, 675 Shaun Ganness, 237 Ruddy Felix, 748 Kenton Hazzard, and Rural Constable Wendell Sylvester were originally charged with manslaughter in connection with Bartholomew’s death.

However, Justice Septimus Rudd who is based in Antigua ruled last month that the manslaughter charge be quashed to give way for the Coroner’s Inquest.

Shaun Ganness – summoned to appear before the Coroner

Shaun Ganness – summoned to appear before the Coroner

The inquest was first set to commence last week Friday at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court, but Coroner for the Eastern District, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis opted to have it adjourned in respect of the funeral of Professor Simeon Randolph Mc Intosh that was taking place at the same time.

Professor Mc Intosh who was promoting Constitutional Reform during the Tillman Thomas-led Congress Government died on March 22 after suffering a massive stroke in Barbados.

Queen’s Counsel Dr. Francis Alexis who is a member of the legal team representing the five Police Officers felt it was incredible for the State to have tried to get the inquest started at a time when, according to him, “a regional person was being buried.”

Dr. Alexis charged that this was being done by the State in an attempt to please the Canadians.

The senior lawyer also raised concerns about not receiving a copy of the Jurors’ list.

Dr. Alexis who along with attorneys Anselm Clouden, and Cajeton Hood who is now the country’s Attorney General battled in the court to have the charge of Manslaughter against the five Police Officers be dropped in favour of a Coroner’s Inquest said things have started off on the wrong foot.

Edward Gibson – the most senior police  officer to face the Coroner

Edward Gibson – the most senior police
officer to face the Coroner

He told the Coroner, the lawyers would have liked to be able to scrutinise the Jurors’ list with their clients before the inquest is started.

However, Coroner St. Louis promised that the list would be made available long before the next sitting of the court.

St. Louis also told Dr. Alexis he decided to commence the proceedings of the inquest to merely take care of house-keeping matters.

The names of the Jurors to be selected for the inquest were called, along with close to 30 witnesses who are to appear before the Coroner.

Members of the Executive of the Police Welfare Association (PWA) including President, Inspector Randy Connaught were present in court to give support to the accused policemen.

Wendell Sylvester – was stationed at the St. David’s Police Station at the time of the incident

Wendell Sylvester – was stationed at the St. David’s Police Station at the time of the incident

Three of the five Police Officers who have to present themselves before the Coroner were whisked away in one of the mini-buses that is owned by the Welfare Association.

A brother of the deceased who was present in court said the relatives are just seeking justice for the death of Bartholomew.

Perron Taitt felt that justice is long overdue and that they are looking forward to closure in the matter and they intend to have legal representation during the inquest.

“It would be a plus on our side (legal representation) and it was also advised as well,” he said.

Social worker Kris Davis who was seen around the precinct of the court told reporters that she got involved in the Bartholomew issue on the invitation of the relatives.

According to Davis, she was asked to assist in coordinating a campaign to ensure that the relatives get justice.

The sitting of the court was void of any demonstration, except for a handful of people, some of who carried placard.

At the time when the charge was laid on the men in December 2011, a huge demonstration was led outside the court by Pastor Devon Rachae, a member of the New National Party, assembled in the vicinity of the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court where the Police Officers made their first court appearance, and then onto the main office of the Criminal Investigation Department in St. George’s shouting “Police Brutality.”

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