QC Nelson to be sentenced on Thursday

Vincent Nelson, QC
Vincent Nelson, QC

JAMAICAN-born, British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson is expected to be sentenced by a High Court judge on Thursday. This comes some six months after he pleaded guilty to his role in an alleged conspiracy with former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen. The matter is in connection with a series of financial transactions and alleged rewards involving legal fees paid to him for representation in state briefs. The briefs were obtained while Ramlogan was attorney general.

Sources said Nelson arrived in TT on Wednesday, and is under heavy police guard ahead of his appearance at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain for his sentencing Thursday afternoon.

Justice Malcolm Holdip, on June 6, 2019, accepted the plea agreement deal struck between Nelson and the State and in accordance with section 26 of the Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Act, and Nelson formally entered his guilty plea.

He was initially expected to be sentenced last week Thursday, but that was adjourned to today.

On January 13, prosecutors in Ramlogan and Ramdeen’s criminal prosecution said police had received Nelson’s statements in that case. In September, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, told the magistrate the State had encountered some difficulty in getting Nelson’s statements because he was not in Trinidad and because of his health status.

The long adjournment for Nelson’s sentencing was because the judge wanted to see how the two related matters would progress as well as Nelson's obligations under the plea agreement.

In accordance with the provisions of the recently-proclaimed Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Act, certain steps had to take place before the judge signed off on the agreement.

This included the disclosure by the prosecution the substance of and reasons for the agreement and before accepting it, the judge had to ensure an accused was not induced to enter the agreement and knows of the consequences of it.

The judge also had to ensure that the agreement was justifiable. Also under the plea agreement, the judge also had to sign off on the terms of sentence agreed to.

Nelson first appeared in the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court on May 2, 2019, and the act was invoked. The matter was transferred to the High Court for the plea agreement trial.

Nelson lives in the UK, and was granted permission to leave the country and return for the hearing of his case. He is on $100,000 cash bail, which was not varied by Holdip. He has expressed fear for his safety in TT. He is represented by British QC Tom Allen and local attorney Roger Kawalsingh.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on Wednesday said history was expected to be made this week as Nelson’s case comes to court for sentencing. Speaking on CCN TV6’s Morning Brew talk show, Al-Rawi said it was a first for TT as it demonstrated that the plea bargaining law and criminal procedures worked together with the swift action of the Office of the DPP.

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