Prosecutor in the case of Llewellyn Lucas murder, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams asked the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith for an adjournment at today’s hearing. Today was set aside for disclosure in the investigation against William Mason, Ashton Vanegas, Terrence and Kyron Fernandez and Ernest Castillo. ACP Williams explained the reason for his request.
“The matter was adjourned today for disclosure but you all will understand that the Mason investigation is a very complex one, it is not an open and close investigation and as the public has been saying that they want a proper investigation to be done and the police is doing just that and because of the nature of the investigation, the degree that the police officers have to probe where this investigation is concerned, collection of evidence pertaining to the matter takes an extended period of time and so we were not able to get the file to the DPP until last week Friday and again the DPP having the file last week Friday today’s adjournment it would have been impractical for her to peruse the file and prepare it for disclosure today. So what we did today was basically ask the court for an adjournment and the criminal practice and procedure rule does provide the venue where the prosecution can apply for an adjournment in certain circumstances and one such circumstance is where the interest of justice requires that the adjournment be given. In this case we are saying that the interest of justice does require that the magistrate exercise her discretion in granting adjournments, secondly the rule also stipulates the period of time frame in which disclosure is to be given and if you’d notice that in hybrid offences they give up to four months. This is not a hybrid offence this is an indictable matter and an indictable matter the rule states that it must be 14 days before the preliminary inquiry; we are not even set at 8 for PI. So there is nothing to say that we would have had to provide disclosure today so long as we remain in the timeline stipulated by the rules which is 14 days before PI but at the end of the day the court did in fact make an order and it is the duty of the prosecution to comply and when we cannot comply with those orders then the prudent thing for us to do is to go back to the court, explain our circumstances to the court and ask for an extension of time to comply with the court order and that is basically what we did today.”
ACP Williams also made a second request to the Chief Magistrate asking that there be a consolidation of matters to the court in the Belize Judicial District.
“The main issue in that is the fact that all the matters arose from one circumstance and even as it relates to the murder of Pastor Lucas you would see that the murder charge was in the Belize judicial district but the conspiracy to commit murder was in Belmopan. Now the same murder that you are talking about the same sets of evidence that will be used and the same witnesses and everything. My submission to the court is that kidnapping under which the defendants are charged under Section 75 A of the criminal code that offence did not occur until the defendants had taken their victims, that is Pasto Lucas and Mr.Dad out of the Cayo judicial district and that would be when they arrived at mile 31, that is when that offence took place. So we are saying that the proper venue for that offence to be heard is in the Belize judicial district and not the Cayo judicial district. As it relates to conspiracy by law is a continuing offence and we have a reference case which clearly outlines that its a continuing offence, so you could being to conspire in Africa or the UK and if the offence is committed in Belize the conspiracy follows the offence so again you can be charged in that circumstance for conspiracy either in Belmopan or Belize judicial district so we are saying let us have all the matters come through in Belize City magistrate court. It will save us time, money and resources and most importantly you will be able to ventilate all the issues in one court rather than be here and next day go to Belmopan, it makes proper sense to have all the matters heard by one court.”
A new disclosure date has been set for November 9. Chief Magistrate asked that there be partial disclosure, at the least. Meanwhile, ACP Williams says that would be dependent on the Director of Public Prosecutions.