Wolffe slams police no-show in court
The island’s top magistrate has asked for disciplinary action to be taken against police officers who failed to show up in court to give evidence.
Juan Wolffe was speaking after two police officers did not appear for the trial of a man accused of drink driving.
Mr Wolffe said that the Department of Public Prosecutions and senior police officers needed to put pressure on personnel called to give evidence.
He added: “It is unconscionable that a police officer could just feel that ’I’m not going to court’ or ’I’m not going to put it down in my diary’ or ’I’m on leave so I’m not coming in’.
“I’ve been shouting at the top of my lungs about this since I’ve been a senior magistrate and I’ve given ample opportunity for the police to get their act together – and still we have, on the 20th of January, 2021, two police officers not showing up in court.”
Mr Wolffe was speaking on Wednesday as Chris Furbert Jr, who has pleaded not guilty, appeared in court.
Mr Furbert, 41, from Warwick, is charged with drink driving and refusal to take a breath test.
The incident is alleged to have happened on July 31, 2019 in St George’s.
The court heard that the trial was scheduled to begin on October 9 last year but had to be adjourned because a police witness was called to a personal emergency and told the court he could not appear.
Mr Wolffe said that “very exceptional circumstances” such as health problems or personal tragedies were acceptable reasons.
But he added: “They should have the courtesy of contacting the Department of Public Prosecutions office to say ’I can’t make today’.”
Kentisha Tweed, for the Crown, told the court that the DPP could not shed light on the “internal policies and procedures” of the police or why the officers failed to turn up.
She added that the Department of Public Prosecutions had made complaints to police about the absence of officers for court proceedings.
A police spokesman declined to comment on why police officers had failed to turn up in court or if there were any penalties for those who failed to do so.
He added: “The seriousness with which we treat the concerns raised by..the senior magistrate has been communicated to him and the BPS will be liaising with the Department of Public Prosecutions to have these concerns addressed.”
The trial was adjourned because a magistrate who could hear the case could not be found.
Magistrate Maxanne Anderson was scheduled to hear the case yesterday but recused herself because of family connections to the defendant.
Other magistrates, including Mr Wolffe, also declined to hear the case on the grounds of connections to Mr Furbert.
The case was adjourned until February 3.
•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.