Another stumbling block has hit the commencement of the Coroner’s Inquest on Monday into the death of Peter Oscar Bartholomew.
Bartholomew died on December 27, 2011 at the General Hospital as a result of injuries he allegedly sustained at the hands of a group of Police Officers at the St. David’s Police Station one day earlier.
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 by the Police Officers.
Five Police Officers, 649 Edward Gibson, 237 Ruddy Felix, 748 Kenton Hazzard, Rural Constable Wendell Sylvester, and 675 Shaun Ganness who was absent from the court on Monday were originally charged with manslaughter in connection with Bartholomew’s death.
However, the charge was quashed by High Court Judge, Justice Septimus Rudd which gave way for the Coroner’s Inquest.
Due to the absence of defense counsels, Anselm Clouden and Gerald Douglas from the court, the decision was taken to push back the start date of the inquest to August 26.
Another of the defense lawyers, Queen’s Counsel Dr. Francis Alexis who is representing Gibson sought to address the misconception that the group of lawyers are dragging their feet on the matter and are not taking it seriously.
Dr. Alexis told the court that Clouden who is representing Felix is out of the State on official business with the Government of the United States.
The court also learnt that Douglas too is out of the State because of a prior commitment.
Douglas took over the case file representing Sylvester, Gannes and Hazzard, from barrister-at-law, Cajeton Hood who has since become the country’s Attorney General.
Coroner of the eastern Division, Teddy St. Louis was also mindful that the criminal assizes is now in session in deciding against starting the Inquest.
With both Clouden and Douglas having to attend to matters at the assizes, St. Louis was cautious in setting a date during the course of the assizes.
Two of the summoned jurors were excused from being considered to serve during the inquest.
One of the jurors informed the court that he has had close family ties with the deceased man, while the other juror spoke of having close connection with one of the five Police Officers.
But lawyer, Derick Sylvester, who is representing the interest of the Bartholomew family said the police officers could face new charges once the inquest wraps up.
“Our law says, post the coroner’s inquest, the five-member jury panel would be in a position to determine whether or not the charges should be murder, manslaughter or acquittal,” Sylvester said in a phone interview from St. George’s with a Canadian newspaper.
“And I can assure you that the latter would be almost impossible because the society is so incensed with this incident that every time it comes to the fore, you know, you have the public outrage and the public outcry,” he said.