DPP brings end to Simons prosecutions
Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons will no longer face criminal charges brought against him by two serving officers, after the island’s top prosecutor intervened.
Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, wrote to the acting senior magistrate yesterday to say she viewed a private criminal prosecution by Sergeant Mark Monk as “unfounded, frivolous and made from an improper motive”.
She said she was exercising her right to take over the prosecution and issued a formal notice to abandon the case.
Days earlier, Ms Clarke had taken the same steps, for some of the same reasons, to prevent a private criminal prosecution of Mr Simons by another officer, Pc Robert Butterfield.
Mr Monk and Mr Butterfield had accused Mr Simons of refusing to perform his duty as a public officer and attempting to pervert the course of justice – charges that each carry a 12-month jail term if the defendant is found guilty by a magistrate.
But Ms Clarke said the allegations “as drafted” by the two officers for the latter charge were “not an offence known to law” and the first charge in the case brought by Mr Butterfield was “time-barred by statute”.
In her letter yesterday about Mr Monk and in a February 27 letter about Mr Butterfield, both sent to acting senior magistrate Tyrone Chin, she said the officers had been informed of the reasons why she decided in each case not to institute a public prosecution.
Mr Chin gave the go-ahead for both private prosecutions and issued summonses for Mr Simons to attend court on two different hearing dates this month.
Ms Clarke wrote that the summonses were now void and without legal effect and the hearings would not take place.
She shared the letters with Mr Monk and Mr Butterfield, who passed them to The Royal Gazette.
Ms Clarke confirmed today that Mr Simons appeared at Magistrates’ Court this morning where he was officially discharged on both matters.
The officers told the Gazette their criminal complaints about Mr Simons were not investigated.
Mr Monk claimed it was impossible to hold senior figures in the justice system to account, adding: “It is my hope that the Government pass some sort of legislation to create some sort of independent body to hold persons in those positions accountable for their actions and decisions or lack thereof.”
Mr Butterfield said he was seeking legal advice about how to further pursue his complaint.
As the Gazette reported on Tuesday, the case stems from allegations of misconduct made against Mr Monk by two fellow officers in June 2020, which led to him being suspended on full pay from the Bermuda Police Service for almost two years.
He was unhappy with an assessment of the complaints written by Superintendent Gillian Murray, a British officer hired by former police commissioner Stephen Corbishley to head the BPS’s professional standards department.
After it was found that Ms Murray did not have the legal authority to act in disciplinary matters, Mr Monk hired a lawyer to have her assessment declared unlawful and asked the BPS to pay his legal fees.
Mr Corbishley refused. Mr Simons, then the Deputy Commissioner of Police, escalated Mr Monk’s case to gross misconduct.
The disciplinary matter has yet to be resolved.
Mr Monk asked Mr Butterfield to act as his “police friend” — a fellow officer who can give advice and representation — at any disciplinary proceedings.
Both officers had their homes searched by police in December 2020 after they were accused of “causing disaffection” among their colleagues.
The raid was part of a criminal inquiry into the leaking of a legal document about the divorce of Mr Corbishley.
The officers, who denied any wrongdoing, were reinstated last March after suspensions on full pay and were told they would not face charges relating to the “disaffection” allegations.
But Mr Monk is now facing criminal charges of using a phone to cause Mr Corbishley “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety” and using a phone to harass Ms Murray.
He denies the allegations and has also pleaded not guilty to attempted perversion of the course of justice by harassing investigating officers and falsely accusing them of perjury.
His wife, Tricia Monk, denies using a phone to harass Ms Murray.
NOTE: This article has been updated to include confirmation from the Director of Public Prosecutions that the commissioner appeared in court today and was discharged on both matters.