Lawyer Justin Williams dies in the US
A prominent lawyer named in corruption charges has died in the US.
It is understood that Justin Williams passed away on Wednesday night after several weeks in hospital.
He was one of four defendants earlier listed in allegations that also involved a former commanding officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
Jerome Lynch, who was Mr Williams’ lawyer in Bermuda, said yesterday afternoon: “I am particularly saddened by it since he is accused of various crimes … he has not had an opportunity to vindicate himself, to demonstrate that he was an innocent man.”
He added that he understood Mr Williams, a former St John Ambulance commander and chairman, died of kidney failure and Covid-19.
Mr Williams was also a former Bermuda Bar Council president.
It is understood that he was on a ventilator “for some weeks” before his death.
Mr Lynch said “all kinds of allegations” had been made about Mr Williams over the years.
He added: “I lament the fact that he will be remembered perhaps more for the allegations that he has never had the opportunity to demonstrate were untrue, rather than his contribution as a member of the Bar in Bermuda, a former chair of the Bar, and a man who contributed much to charitable works.”
He added: “He had many supporters, many people who appreciated what he did and the work he did.”
Mark Pettingill, a director at Chancery Legal, said that he had known Mr Williams since childhood and that his death was “incredibly tragic”.
He added: “He was a larger than life character, very generous.
“Whilst I obviously am aware that he had some professional and personal challenges in recent times, he will hopefully be remembered for his work as president of the Bermuda Bar where he was well-regarded and for his involvement in charitable endeavours.”
Police raided the Point Shares home of Mr Williams in November 2019.
Detective Superintendent Nicholas Pedro said then that officers were acting on two warrants – one under the Firearms Act and another under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Police announced on New Year’s Eve 2019 that they were seeking the return of Mr Williams to Bermuda from the United States to be interviewed as part of a criminal investigation.
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said then: “We are investigating several matters including firearms, corruption and crime-related matters.”
Mr Williams told The Royal Gazette that he had offered, through his lawyers, to speak to police but that they had not replied.
He added in January last year: “In fact, I am yet to be provided with any details as to what allegations, if any, are being made against me, except that which has been reported to the public media.
“I can say that any firearms present in my residence would be lawful under the Firearm Act or properly registered under the same legislation.
“As for any allegations of corruption or matters involving vulnerable persons, I categorically deny any wrongdoing whatsoever.”
Then-Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said in June 2020 that an investigation was launched after the search on Mr Williams’s home and interviews with “numerous” people.
He said that inquiries were focused on matters relating to the lawyer’s "alleged involvement in the purchase of firearms from the Royal Bermuda Regiment, in association with another male, alongside the suspected supply of drugs and inappropriate behaviour towards minors“.
Mr Williams was named in Supreme Court charges earlier this year but Mr Lynch said an indictment was never served on him.
Mr Williams was included in allegations that also related to Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, now retired, Gareath Adderley, a former Commissioner of St John Ambulance, and Christopher Clarke, an ex-police inspector.
At a virtual court sitting last May, Colonel Curley was alleged to have asked for a nomination for the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for Mr Williams so that he could arrange to have him appointed as legal adviser to the RBR.
Mr Williams was alleged to have procured a medal of the Order of St John for Colonel Curley in 2015 in exchange for a firearm.
Mr Williams was also alleged, with Mr Clarke and Mr Adderley, to have offered a bribe to Michael Mello in exchange for compounding an offence.
None of the defendants were alleged to be involved with the suspected supply of drugs and inappropriate behaviour towards minors allegations.
Colonel Curley, Mr Clarke and Mr Adderley are expected to make court appearances again next week.
•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.