After almost close to five years, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis, the District Coroner in St. David is about to wrap up the inquest into the December 2011death of Oscar Bartholomew following an incident inside a police station.
The Magistrate has now taken all the evidence in the matter which has attracted worldwide attention especially from Canada where Bartholomew became a naturalised citizen.
Evidence was given by the five police officers charged with Manslaughter, along with more than 20 witnesses for the state, including the wife of the deceased, civilians, doctors and other law enforcement officers.
The Coroner’s Inquest started at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court in April 2013 and last week Friday saw another sitting before Coroner St. Louis which was dominated by the cross examination of Police Constable 675 Shaun Garness.
The police officer who is charged with Manslaughter is currently attached to the Fire Department at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA).
He is being represented by Defense Attorney, Peter David.
During the hearing, retired Police Constable, 649 Edward Gibson and Rural Constable Wendell Sylvester, were seen shaking their heads in amazement over certain answers provided by 675 Garness gave to questions posed by attorneys Dr. Francis Alexis, QC and Anselm Clouden during cross examination.
The other officers, 748 Kenton Hazzard, and 237 Rudy Felix appeared to be expressionless, while 675 Garness seemingly maintained his composure throughout the entire process.
Garness was also asked some additional questions by the 6-member jury which also got an opportunity to tour the St. David’s Police Station upon the request of RC Wendell Sylvester, one of those charged with Manslaughter.
The officer felt the visit was necessary as it would bring into perspective exactly what transpired with Bartholomew inside the station on the day he lost his life.
According to Magistrate St. Louis, last week Friday’s sitting rounded up the process of taking evidence and he is all set to hear addresses by defense attorneys and to sum up the case for the jury on the next occasion, which has been scheduled for November 10.
Back in 2012, the 5 officers were charged in connection with the death of Bartholomew after they were suspected of beating him into a fatal coma.
The altercation occurred on December 26, 2011, (Boxing Day), after the 49-year-old bear-hugged a plainclothes policewoman, who he allegedly mistook for a long-time friend.
The Coroner’s Inquiry was ordered by high court judge, Justice Septimus Rudd who in March 2013 squashed the Manslaughter charges brought by Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Nelson against the officers.
The judge ruled that there should be a Coroner’s Inquest in keeping with Section (9) of the pre-Constitutional Coroner’s Act.
However, DPP Nelson, QC filed an appeal against Justice Rudd’s ruling and got a three-member Panel of Court of Appeal Justice to rule in his favour.
This paved the way for the five police officers to face charges of Manslaughter in the controversial death of Bartholomew, who grew up at La Tante in St. David.
The officers who were suspended from duties were reinstated into the police force.