Rural Constable (RC) Wendell Sylvester, who is one of five Police Officers involved in the Oscar Bartholomew Coroner’s Inquest that was without a lawyer for some time, has now retained the services of Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Stewart from the sister isle of Carriacou to assist him in the matter.
The Rural Constable was previously represented by experienced Criminal Attorney, Peter David who was also retained by fellow police officers and co-accused – Police Constables 675 Shaun Garness and 748 Kenton Hazzard.
However, Attorney David had informed the Inquest that he had advised Sylvester to retain separate counsel due to what he described as a “conflict of interest” between clients.
Back in 2012, RC Sylvester along with Police Constables 748 Hazzard, 675 Garness, 327 Rudy Felix and 649 Edward Gibson were charged with Manslaughter after they were suspected of beating Bartholomew 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, aged 49 at the time of the incident, was vacationing on island with his Canadian wife who reportedly went into the police station to use the washroom facilities.
The Grenadian-born naturalised Canadian citizen 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.
The officers have since been reinstated into the police force and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher 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, which is drawing close to an end.
When the Inquest continued at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court last week Friday, PC 327 Rudy Felix, who is represented by seasoned criminal attorney, Anselm Clouden gave his account of what transpired on that dreadful day.
Felix, who is currently attached to the St. Paul’s Station, has been with the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) for approximately 3 years prior to Bartholomew’s death.
He was reportedly acting as the diarist on the day when Bartholomew was brought in on an assault charge.
Meanwhile, the Coroner, His Honour Magistrate Teddy St. Louis is expected to take evidence from Sylvester in the presence of his new attorney when the Inquest resumes on August 18.
Sylvester’s attorney was unavoidably absent when the court met last week Friday, hence a decision was taken to reserve his right to cross examine PC Felix’ testimony on the next occasion.
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.