Magistrate Leron Daly should be disciplined
Kaieteur News – Last Friday, Justice Priya Beharry granted bail to a person sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by Magistrate Leron Daly. I cannot discuss the case because there is an appeal. But I will discuss the parameters of the Sexual Offenses Act in the context of the freedoms that hold modern society intact.
Justice Beharry asked Magistrate Leron Daly to provide a written ruling so that she could be led by the bail application by attorney Dexter Todd three weeks ago. He set Friday as the deadline and if not lodged then he would issue bail. She did after the magistrate failed to comply.
Now it is possible that Justice Beharry, three weeks ago, would not have granted the defendant liberty. But then again maybe she is. It means that because of the magistrate’s non-compliance, the defendant had to spend three weeks in prison. The applicant has a family including a minor child. No judicial system should treat the substance of liberty so causally.
The man was convicted under the Sexual Offenses Act. I believe under that law no one should be at the mercy of a single referee. Such trials should be before a judge and jury. The Sexual Offenses Act was a response to society’s unlimited anger. As a result, it has eased the openness of a democratic society.
The press will not be allowed when such trials are being conducted. This is not only an insult but a denial of what an open, free society should be. It insults the invaluable role the press plays in showing society what’s wrong with its fulcrums when those pillars are either shaken or weakened by incompetence or corruption. In the United States, two of the most famous cases of sexual abuse – Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein – took place in open court.
There is only one situation where the worldwide press is prevented from reporting and that is in some forms of betrayal, not betrayal generally. The press is excluded when national security information is too sensitive to be reported. In the last betrayal case in Guyana, Mark Benschop and I observed the case under Judge Beharry who was then Chief Justice. What the judge or magistrate should do in sexual crime trials is to instruct the press what not to print but the press should be allowed to report on any trial in a democratic country. Of course we have a childish, worthless, pathetic press society that is just one more stain on the fabric of this nation that makes the world laugh at our heads.
I saw the fundamental error in the Sex Offenses Act when the son of one of Guyana’s most prominent names was facing a judge and jury. He was accused of inserting his finger into the vagina of an underage girl. I knew the fellow because he had cleaned my car. He worked in the wash bay next to the AFC head office on the western continuation of the Railway Embankment. He received 45 consecutive years in prison.
Now read how the court arrived at the “fact” that the girl was underage. A letter from Georgetown Hospital was submitted stating that Mary Jones (a random name) had given birth to a baby girl on a certain day. There was no evidential connection between that letter and the age of the accused. I think then and still believe the girl was not underage.
Imagine if Nigel Hughes, Anil Nandlall or Sanjeev Datadin were the defense attorneys. Right away that case would have ended. The accused defended himself not having a high school education. He was given 45 consecutive years by a female judge. I asked attorney Madan Kissoon to file an appeal that cannot be done because after five years, the judge is still writing her decision.
The evidence of the accused was incredible. She admitted that, at the time of the case, she was having sex with a boy she admitted did not know his name. The evidence in the case in Daly Magistrates’ court is not one I can comment on because of the sub judice principle but I will advise readers to read between the lines.
Let us conclude with the magistrate’s lack of response to Judge Beharry’s request. Is the Judicial Service Committee going to investigate it? The answer is no. Why? Because there is no one in this society; no establishment in this country; no senator in this country, no Cabinet minister in this nation could bother with the way a young man was denied three weeks of his freedom. They might think he’s not a man. Are they human?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.)