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Charges dropped against police sergeant and wife

Former Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley with Sergeant Mark Monk (File photograph)

Prosecutors have dropped all criminal charges against a policeman accused of harassing a former Commissioner of Police, with the officer’s lawyer calling the case an “extraordinary waste of public money”.

Sergeant Mark Monk, 42, was charged with using a phone to cause “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety” towards Stephen Corbishley, who quit the Bermuda Police Service suddenly in October 2021.

Sergeant Monk was accused, with his wife, Tricia, 42, of using a phone to harass Superintendent Gillian Murray, former head of the Bermuda Police Service’s professional standards department.

He was also accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice by harassing investigating officers and falsely accusing them of perjury.

The Monks denied all the offences, which allegedly occurred between May and July 2021.

The Crown filed a nolle prosequi — or a request for an indefinite adjournment — in Magistrates’ Court yesterday, indicating that it would not proceed with the case at this time.

Prosecutor Alan Richards told senior magistrate Maxanne Anderson that it was “no longer in the public interest to continue this prosecution”.

Ms Anderson granted the adjournment and dismissed the couple, from Sandys.

Sergeant Monk’s lawyer, Jerome Lynch, KC, welcomed the decision but told The Royal Gazette: “It’s still an extraordinary waste of money.”

He said it was never in the public interest to bring the case, adding that time and money were wasted on a “wholly unwarranted” criminal investigation.

Mr Lynch claimed his client was targeted by the BPS and charged with the very minor offence of “causing annoyance, inconvenience and needless anxiety to another officer” because he had the “temerity” to complain about the behaviour of senior police leadership.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous,” the lawyer said, adding that the prosecution arose purely out of Sergeant Monk’s written complaints about officers and social-media posts criticising them.

“You would have thought that senior police officers might have been a little more robust,” he added.

The Crown’s decision to request an indefinite adjournment came four years after Sergeant Monk first came into conflict with Mr Corbishley, when he challenged the actions of Ms Murray and found out that she did not have legal authority to make decisions about officers’ conduct.

Mr Lynch said Mr Corbishley wrongly believed that Sergeant Monk was later involved in the leaking of an affidavit sworn by Mr Corbishley’s wife in connection with their divorce proceedings.

“Mark had nothing to do with that,” the lawyer added.

A warrant was obtained from a magistrate to search his home in December 2020 but the BPS admitted in March this year, after Sergeant Monk launched civil proceedings against the Commissioner of Police, that it was not lawfully obtained.

Police agreed to pay $200,000 to Sergeant Monk and his wife in an out-of-court settlement, as well as their legal fees.

It is understood that prosecutors dropped the criminal case against the Monks in the knowledge that Mr Lynch was going to make an “abuse of process” application on behalf of his client, relying on a report into the obtaining of the warrant written by Detective Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford, who was highly critical of the conduct of senior officers.

“The prosecution was never sustainable, in my view,” Mr Lynch said.

“The Glasford report strikes at the heart of the way the police conduct themselves when seeking a search warrant from a judge; they are required to be honest and frank.”

He insisted that it would be in the public interest for that report to be disclosed, describing the way in which officers obtained the warrant as “outrageous behaviour”.

Mr Lynch added: “It is to be regretted that this is a taint on the majority of hard-working police officers who conduct themselves properly and in the public interest.”

He said the decision not to pursue the criminal case against Sergeant Monk meant that neither Mr Corbishley nor Ms Murray, both now back in Britain, would have to come to the island to give evidence.

It also means a court will not have to decide whether a report ordered by the Governor and written by former detective Andrew Bermingham into allegations of gross misconduct against Mr Corbishley should be shared with Mr Lynch, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the court.

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ordered the Deputy Governor, Tom Oppenheim, to produce the Bermingham report in court, prompting Government House to seek a judicial review to prevent having to disclose it.

Mr Lynch said Sergeant Monk still did not know whether he would face any internal disciplinary proceedings.

“He’s clearly suffered psychologically as a result of all this,” the lawyer added.

“I have seen his deterioration over the last couple of years. It’s been an enormous strain, for him and his family.”

Pc Robert Butterfield, another officer whose home was raided during the investigation into the leaked divorce affidavit, also sued over the obtaining of a warrant to search his home.

He said in May that a settlement he was offered by the BPS was “simply too low”. His civil case continues.

Pc Butterfield and Sergeant Monk were told in July 2021 that they would face no charges in relation to the criminal inquiry into the accusations about the leaked affidavit.

Antoine Daniels, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, said yesterday: “The decision to prosecute in any matter is not made by the Bermuda Police Service.

“The BPS investigate allegations of wrongdoing and provide any evidence gathered to the Department of Public Prosecutions.”

A police spokesman added: “The BPS respect the decisions of the DPP and courts in this matter.”

Adjournments through a nolle prosequi can be upheld for a year before a case is dismissed.

Additional reporting by Sam Strangeways

• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.