February 17 is next date for Oscar Bartholomew inquest

The five police officers involved in the Coroner’s Inquest into the December 2011 death of Grenadian-born Canadian Citizen, Oscar Bartholomew, have been given until February 17 to decide whether or not they would provide evidence in the matter.

Coroner for the parish of St. David, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis, who is presiding over the proceedings, has already called all 24 witnesses in the matter, which is being conducted at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court.

When the matter was heard last week Friday, the Magistrate granted the request made by a team of local lawyers for more time to consult with their clients on the issue of providing evidence to the court.

The five police officers – 649 Edward Gibson, 237 Ruddy Felix, 675 Shaun Ganness, 748 Kenton Hazzard and Rural Constable, Wendell Sylvester – were initially charged with Manslaughter for the death of Bartholomew.

However, in March 2013, then High Court Judge, Justice Septimus Rudd, handed down an order to squash the charges laid against them and for a Coroner’s Inquest to take place in keeping with Section (9) of the pre-Constitutional Coroner’s Act.

The officers were reinstated into the Royal Grenada Police Force following the ruling.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson, QC has filed an appeal with the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal against Rudd’s ruling.

December 26, 2016, marked 5 years since Bartholomew met his unfortunate death, which happened while he was vacationing on the island with his Canadian wife.

The couple was reportedly travelling in a vehicle in the direction of St. Andrew, when they stopped at the St. David’s Police Station to use the restroom.

Bartholomew was allegedly beaten inside the police station after he was taken into custody following an encounter with a female police officer, who is said to be the daughter of one of the accused officers, 649 Edward Gibson.

Speculation is rife that the incident occurred after Bartholomew mistook the female officer for an old friend and lifted her into the air while waiting for his wife who was inside the police station.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Gibson has since retired from the police force.

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 Coroner is not authorised to identify who is responsible for his death.

Last Friday’s proceedings saw the cross examination of two witnesses who were reserved for cross examination by defense attorney, Peter David, who is representing Police Constable 675 Shaun Garness.

Attorney-at-law Anselm Clouden, is representing 237 Ruddy Felix, while Dr. Francis Alexis QC is representing the other three persons – Gibson, Hazzard and Sylvester.

In an interview following the sitting, Crown Counsel in the Officer of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Brandon La Touche, anticipated at least two more sittings will be held before the 6-member jury can deliver a verdict in the inquest.

La Touche conceded that three years is a long time for an inquest to be held while acknowledging that there have been come setbacks due to the change of counsel and the fact that a lot of defendants and witnesses are involved in the matter.

“We had a lot of setbacks but we are nearly at the end,” he declared.

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