Thursday 26 November, 2020

Case against final person in guest house 12 dismissed

The case against the last person detained in April for breaching the Public Health Ordinance at the Alicia's Guest House has been dismissed. 

Charges against Venezuelan national Yosmairy Yohely Duarte Vallenilla were dropped when the matter came up for hearing on Monday. 

Vallenilla was represented by attorney Seanna Baboolal. 

The matter was called before Magistrate Sarah De Silva in the precincts of the Port of Spain Magistracy.  

Once again, the State made an application for the matter to be adjourned, despite the Court instructing police prosecutors to be ready for the case to go to trial. 

The Magistrate said that the State had ample time to get its house in order and repeatedly called for witnesses to be brought forward so the case could start. 

When this was not done, the matter was dismissed. 

In giving her decision for overruling the application, De Silva cited the criminal procedure rules and police standing orders. 

Loop News was told that the police service is expected to appeal the decision. 

On November 3, the Magistrate dismissed the charges against the 11 others as the State (represented by police prosecutors) had failed to provide the Defence with any disclosure of evidence (of materials which would be relied upon by prosecutors in the case). 

At that time, the State had failed to submit the case to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a Public Prosecutor to be appointed to the matter. 

In dismissing the first matter, De Silva said that the State had failed to adhere to instructions given by the court. 

Inspector Rajesh Lall represented the interests of the State. 

Attorneys Renuka Rambhajan and Seana Baboolal represented the interests of some of the accused. 

At the time, Lall made a submission to the court for the matter to be adjourned for the relevant files to be forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a State attorney to be appointed. 

However, this was objected to by the attorneys, who noted that this was the same application made when the matter had last been called. 

Additionally, it had been over five months since the 11 accused were arrested, yet the defence had yet to receive any disclosure of evidence.

After further submissions, the matter was dismissed. 

Within days, this decision was subsequently appealed by the office of the Commissioner of Police. 

The 12 were arrested at Alicia's House Guest House in St Ann's on April 10, during an alleged party and later for the offence of gathering in a public place where the number of persons gathered exceeded five persons, in accordance with Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Public Health [2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (No. 9) Regulations, 2020. 

The operation which led to the arrests was led by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, and his Special Operations Response Team (SORT). 

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: