Magistrate throws out public health regulations case

File photo
File photo

ALMOST three dozen public health regulation charges were thrown out by a Port of Spain Magistrate on Monday after the police failed to comply with court orders for disclosure.

Some 31 people who were said to have been patrons at a bar in Aranguez when they were arrested for breaching public health regulations in March, last year, were discharged by Magistrate Kerri Ann Byer.

Altogether some 37 people had been charged but at least six of them had previously pleaded guilty.

Byer had set Monday for the start of the trial but when the matter was called virtually, she was informed the prosecution failed to comply with previous orders for disclosure.

Among the items of disclosure sought by the attorneys for the group was CCTV footage of the police raid at the bar on March 14. The footage was also featured on the police’s public affairs programme shortly after the arrest.

In dismissing the charges, Byer quoted extensively from appeal court decisions which set out the role of the complainant to comply with court orders.

Those arrested at the bar along the Aranguez main road were charged with breaching the covid19 regulations which did not allow for consumption of drinks.

The bar’s operator was also charged with allowing the consumption of alcohol.

In November 2020, another magistrate had dismissed similar charges against 12 people – five Trinidadian men and seven Venezuelans – all of whom had been arrested on April 10, 2020, at a St Ann’s guest house.

The matter had been set for trial that day, but the police prosecutors had asked for additional time for the file to be sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute the group. She denied the request and dismissed the matters for want of prosecution. The police service has since appealed the matter and a challenge to the constitutionality of the regulations by the five Trinidadians was recently dismissed in the Privy Council.


"Magistrate throws out public health regulations case"

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