Judge allows testimony of absent Vincentian witnesses to be read into evidence in Ray John case

The hopes of the Ray John defence team were deflated today,
February 13, when High Court Judge Tunde Bakre ruled in favour of
the prosecution and allowed the statements of two overseas
witnesses to be read into evidence.

Further, the presiding officer in this judge-alone trial, permitted the
statements to be tendered as exhibits in the case.

Persons following the trial of the senior police officer – for a 2018
matter involving the creation of fraudulent Antigua and Barbuda
passports in St. Vincent and The Grenadines – tell REAL News they
are surprised by the judge’s decision.

One man says he fully expected that John’s attorneys would have
objected to the statements being read in court – on the ground that
the witnesses were unavailable for cross-examination.

According to reports last week, one of the Vincentian witnesses
refused to travel to Antigua for the trial, because he had been the
victim of a shooting after the alleged fraud came to light and now
fears for his safety .

The other witness reportedly could not be located.
Observers tell REAL News the judge’s ruling has restored their
confidence in the justice system to some degree. Prior to this, they
admit, they had seen John’s trial as a “mere formality” before the
authorities “found some reason to throw out the case.”

However, another more cynical resident says he “would not be
surprised if the ruling becomes grounds for appeal if John is

The high-profile case – in which John’s alleged girlfriend and his
mother were initially charged – has been in the making since 2018
and experienced a number of delays.

Then charges against John’s mother, Yvonne Nickie, were dropped
last year.

Accordingly, many locals believed the matter was being deliberately
stalled by politically connected – and possibly implicated – persons
here in Antigua.

In fact, when rumours of the purported fraud began, six years ago, a
senior government minister sought to discredit them, and said that
detractors were making a mountain out of a molehill.

Meanwhile, the trial of the suspended police officer reportedly
continued on Tuesday with the defence team objecting to the
statements of an expert witness – a station sergeant in the Barbados
Police Force – being read into evidence.

However, a deputy commissioner in that country took the witness
stand, via Zoom, and informed the High Court that the officer is

unable to testify at this time as he is on sick leave and under the care
of doctors.

Notwithstanding, the local sergeant who received his statements
will read them into evidence tomorrow when the case resumes.
Tuesday’s sitting was adjourned early since the absence of air
conditioning in the courtroom made conditions there unbearable.