No-case submission denied in alleged passport-fraud case; now lawyers claim judge alone cannot hear two indictments

Attempt after attempt by suspended Police Superintendent Ray John
and his co-accused, Shakema Charles, to have the case against them

dismissed has failed; and yet, another effort has been made – this
time, to have two of their indictments thrown out.

Earlier this month, their lawyers – Hugh Marshall Jr. and Michael
Archibald, respectively – had made a no-case submission before
High Court Justice Tunde Bakre.

The decision, which had been expected on Tuesday, February 27,
was adjourned to Thursday, February 29, when the judge
announced that the application was dismissed.

Both attorneys appeared to have had a premonition about the
ruling, or simply came prepared for any eventuality, because they
made another submission.

This time around, they argued that two of the indictments filed by
the prosecution cannot be tried by a judge alone – although the
choice of a non-jury trial had been made by the accused, themselves.
REAL News was not able to confirm which two indictments the
lawyers had identified.

However, Justice Bakre is expected to render a ruling on this
submission on March 8.

There was an earlier attempt by both accused to prevent the
statements of two overseas witnesses from being read into
evidence, as was requested by the prosecution, since both persons
were unable to attend the trial.

However, that, too, failed.

John and Charles are being tried in relation to a fraud involving
Antigua and Barbuda passports, which was unearthed by police
officers in St. Vincent, John’s country of birth, in 2018.

The alleged offences are said to have occurred between October 1,
2014 and April 6, 2018.

The suspended police officer is facing three charges – conspiracy,
larceny and receiving – while his former partner is jointly charged
with conspiracy.

The case against John’s mother, Yvonne Nikkie, who had been
charged with him and Charles for conspiracy, was dismissed last

Earlier, John and Charles had pleaded not guilty to the charges
against them.

On November 6, 2019, they had been committed to stand trial in the
High Court during the 2020 January Assizes.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted the court
system, caused significant delays in the matter being heard.