AG joins public outrage over court’s decision to release men found with guns, ammo
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, is supporting the public outrage against a decision by City Magistrate, Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus, to release four men who appeared before her on Friday on firearm released charges.
In a Facebook page, Nandlall said the decision of the learned Magistrate to release the men on bail, on their first appearance has “rightfully” evoked grave concern and criticism among members of the public.
“As the Executive Officer of the State under whose responsibility the Justice Sector falls, I can relate to both the public’s concern and criticism. I can also relate to the negative impact which such a decision may have on the morale of the law enforcement agencies of the State,” he said.
The AG suggested that perhaps the State may soon have to resort to the extreme measure of subjecting certain decisions of Magistrates to judicial review in the High Court and lodge complaints with the Judicial Service Commission.
“To assert that crime is a serious problem in our country, may be putting it mildly. To not recgonise that gun related crimes threaten the safety of every citizen would be a forbearance in naivety. These and similar factors are which a tribunal of law is enjoined to take into account when considering the grant or refusal of bail,” the AG added.
He reminded that in order to circumscribe the discretion in respect of the grant of bail in relation to firearm offences, obviously due to their devastating prevalence and the accompanying societal damage, the Ninth Parliament of Guyana unanimously enacted an amendment to the Firearms Act, Chapter 16:05, Laws of Guyana in the following terms:
“No person arrested for any offence under section 16, section 37 or section 38 shall be admitted to bail, unless the prosecution has had an opportunity to intervene and unless there are special reasons for admitting the person to bail which shall be recorded in writing and the trial shall be within reasonable time.”
The AG further explained that the term ‘special reasons’ has been judicially interpreted and thereby confined to relate to the ‘offence’ and not the ‘offender.’
He concluded that based upon the facts elucidated in the news reports, it is impossible to conceive what would have constituted ‘special reasons’, thereby enabling the learned Magistrate to admit these persons to bail.
“It is my hope that the statutory prescription was complied with and those special reasons were recorded in writing,” he added.
Those charged are Antonio Fraser, 26, a driver; Brandon Barker, 27, a taxi driver; Keith Cains, 23, a labourer – all residents of Durban Street, Lodge – and Thaj Fraser, 23, of Norton Street, Lodge.
Antonio Fraser was slapped with two charges, which alleged that on May 26, 2021, at Main Street, Georgetown, he had a 9mm Glock 19 Pistol, along with one 9mm ammunition in his possession when he was not the holder of a firearm license.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $200,000 bail.
Meanwhile, Barker, Cains and Thaj Fraser were charged jointly for two firearm-related charges.
Particulars of the charge alleged that the trio, on the same day in question, at Brickdam, Georgetown, had a .32 Taurus Pistol along with two matching rounds in their possession, when they were not holders of a firearm license.
The men pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on $200,000 bail each.
The Magistrate ordered the men to lodge their passports at the court and report to the Brickdam Police Station weekly under the determination of the case
The case is adjourned to June 25.