From Left: Justice Albert Redhead, Accused Andre Penn and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr. Wayne Rajbansie.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Former legislator, Andre Penn was told with no uncertain terms, his trial will begin next week Monday, July 8, whether his lawyers are present or not. This came directly from High Court Judge Albert Redhead yesterday, July 2 when the matter was called.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr. Wayne Rajbansie also boldly claimed that they have been faced with applications after applications from the defendant and he is of the view that Penn is trying to delay and manipulate the process. Justice Redhead stated that he agreed.
Penn is charged with several sex related offences, allegedly committed on a minor between 2006 and 2008.
When the matter was called, Mr. Lewis Hunte, QC, who appeared for Penn in the absence of his lawyers, requested an adjournment. He said Penn's two lawyers, who are from St. Kitts, are currently engaged in a murder trial, but Hunte could not state how long the trial will last in St. Kitts.
Hunte also pointed out that no new indictment has been filed as yet for Penn and the record for retrial ruling by the Court of Appeal has not been served on the defendant.
In response, DPP Rajbansie said there is an existing indictment before the court and Penn will be tried on that indictment. He explained that it is the original indictment which was filed in 2010 and there is no provision in law that states that a fresh indictment must be filed.
Rajbansie further stated that in relation to the Court of Appeal, that matter is no longer relevant as the Court of Appeal did not deliver a written judgment. The DPP said the matter is now properly before the High Court for a new trial.
He also commented that they have been receiving the same excuses over and over in relation to availability of counsel, including with previous counsel. According to Rajbansie, Penn is trying to delay and manipulate the process; hence, he robustly objected to the trial being postponed from yesterday's date.
Hunte then told the court that he was only acting on instruction he received. He said he is not preview to any documents and commented that the statement by the DPP that Penn was trying to manipulate the process is strong language. However, Justice Redhead said as far as he is concerned, that seems to be the case. Justice Redhead said the court has been faced with the same excuse as on the last occasion Penn's lawyer from England was in a trial; hence, his trial had to be postponed.
The Judge made it clear that he will not be traversing the trial to the October assizes. He pointed out that he saw a letter from Penn's previous lawyer from England, who was unable to represent him. Justice Redhead said he then informed the Registrar to let Penn know that he will start the matter on July 2, whether he has counsel or not.
"So he [Penn] expected this matter to proceed today," Redhead stated.
Meanwhile, DPP Rajbansie told the court that Penn had ample time to put his house in order, but he keeps coming with the same excuses. The DPP commented that he holds the statement that Penn's lawyers are in a murder trial with a high degree of skepticism.
The DPP further lamented that fairness must also be given to the complainant since she has exams coming up.
He said if the Judge grants one last adjournment to next week Monday, he will accept it with a heavy heart.
Justice Redhead said he fully endorses what the DPP stated and told Hunte to convey to the lawyers that the court has bent over backwards to accommodate them. He said at least one of them can attend the trial on Monday and even if they don't, he will start the trial.
It was also stated that the Constitutional Motion filed by Penn on June 14 for him not to stand a retrial now or at all will be heard next week.