Westgate inmate starts legal action for freedom

A man behind bars despite a ruling last month that his rights were violated has launched legal action to regain his freedom.

Mark Pettingill, who appeared for Westgate inmate Dennis Robinson, said yesterday that his client must be released from prison.

He added: “He just can’t, and shouldn’t, be there right now. He’s not properly there.

“Why is he sitting down at Westgate for another night? He’s not charged with anything. He hasn’t had a duly constituted hearing, whether it was three years ago or today.

“How is he there? That’s my fundamental question.”

He was speaking at a hearing yesterday on civil action taken by Mr Robinson against the Parole Board and the Commissioner of Corrections.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said that she would release a written judgment at a later date.

Assistant Justice Delroy Duncan last month ordered that a retrial of Mr Robinson, referred to as the first plaintiff, on an alleged drugs offence should be stayed after he found the defendant’s right to a fair hearing within a reasonable period of time had been breached.

Mr Justice Duncan said in a written judgment: “Further, when I take into account all the circumstances surrounding his incarceration and the conduct of the prosecution of the charge the first plaintiff faces, it would be unfair to retry him.”

Mr Robinson was arrested on November 15, 2016 and charged with intent to supply 418.7 grams of cannabis.

Mr Robinson, who had been released on licence by the Parole Board, was recalled into custody.

He denied the drugs offence at a court appearance in February 2017.

His trial was postponed several times before it started in Magistrates’ Court in May last year.

Closing statements were delivered two months later.

But Magistrate Archibald Warner recused himself from the case in October last year because of a conflict.

A retrial was set for January, but constitutional concerns were raised before it could start.

Mr Robinson has been in custody since his arrest.

Mr Pettingill said that the decision made to recall Mr Robinson in November 2016 was unlawful.

But Shakira Dill-Francois, who appeared for the Parole Board and Commissioner of Corrections, argued that just because there had been a withdrawal of charges against a person “doesn’t mean they will automatically be released from prison”.

Ms Dill-Francois added: “In fact, you’ll see from the original ruling of Mr Justice Duncan he specifically says that he cannot quash that recall.”

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case

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