The Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Grenadian-born Canadian citizen, Oscar Bartholomew continued at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court last week Friday, with Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) Christopher Nelson, QC, informing the District Coroner, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis, of his willingness to continue the inquiry.
DPP Nelson made the announcement following a recent Court of Appeal ruling to overturn Justice Septimus Rudd’s decision to quash Manslaughter charges brought against five police officers in connection with the December 2011 death of Bartholomew.
The Chief State Prosecutor told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the decision to continue with the Coroner’s Inquest is in the best interest of the case which is over 6 years old.
The five police officers, 649 Edward Gibson, 237 Ruddy Felix, 675 Shaun Ganness, 748 Kenton Hazzard and Rural Constable Wendell Sylvester, are accused of beating 39-year-old Bartholomew into a fatal coma on December 26, 2011 in a cell at the St. David’s Police Station, in an altercation that allegedly occurred after the deceased bear-hugged a plainclothes policewoman he had mistaken for a friend, after she yelled rape.
The incident happened on December 26, 2011, while Bartholomew was in the country visiting his family for the Christmas holiday.
The Preliminary Inquiry (PI) into his death commenced at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court in early 2012, but defense attorneys Dr. Francis Alexis, QC and Anselm Clouden, made representation to the sitting Magistrate for a Coroner’s Inquest to be conducted.
However, the Magistrate allowed the PI to continue.
The matter was then taken to the High Court and Justice Rudd took the position that a Coroner’s Inquest should have been held and completed before charges were laid against the officers and before the PI commenced.
In an earlier interview, DPP Nelson explained that a Coroner’s inquest and a Preliminary inquiry are like “two roads leading to the same destination.”
The recent ruling from the Court of Appeal allowed for DPP Nelson to reinstate the charges brought against the five police officers, who were each initially placed on $100, 000 bail.
The Oscar Bartholomew Coroner’s Inquest is drawing closer to an end with only one more police officer, Rural Constable Wendell Sylvester, to present his side of the story to the Coroner and the assembled jury.
Sylvester, who has not retained counsel for his defense, was expected to give evidence, when the matter came up last week Friday.
However, he was absent and a decision was taken to adjourn the matter to June 16.