Two cases withdrawn from Court based on provisions before recent amendments to Criminal Prosecutions Services Act

Although the Criminal Prosecutions Services Act, 2017 was recently
amended, at least two matters were dismissed last week in the St.
John’s Magistrates’ Court as a result of the law’s provisions.

The prosecution withdrew both cases, on separate days, informing
the Court that it would no longer proceed with either of them.
Before the most recent amendment, the prosecution of
all criminal matters fell under the stewardship of the Director of
Public Prosecutions (DPP), requiring permission for the Police to lay
charges against a person.

However, it was discovered, a few months ago, that this provision
was not being followed, creating some degree of confusion in the
system, for both attorneys and their clients.

Now, three people have been freed of the charges filed against them
– unlawfully – prior to the law being amended. They are Tichelle
James of Clare Hall; Tiffany Henry of Christian Street; and Sawaune
Anthony of Cashew Hill, who had been charged jointly with
malicious damage and disorderly conduct by fighting. 

In another matter, Jahbari Toulan and George Chiddick, both of
Green Bay, were jointly charged with house break-in and larceny,
which reportedly took place on January 3, 2022.
However, the prosecution again withdrew charges against them,
based on the 2017 Act.

To clear up the confusion in the Court that stemmed from charges
laid by police officers, Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin
tabled further amendments to the Criminal Prosecutions Services
Bill on May 18.

These amendments sought to correct the error retroactively and, in
essence, legalized the illegality.

The fate of cases already in the Magistrates’ Court became uncertain
after a High Court ruling favoured attorney Wendel Robinson; he
had argued that the Police had had no authority to arrest and charge
one of his clients, who had been remanded to prison for the alleged