Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Donna Babb-Agard, QC, who was prosecuting in that court, was absent due to illness.
After waiting for some time, Justice Margaret Reifer came on the bench at 10.15 a.m. and directed the jurors to return on Thursday.
“You can see the problems and weaknesses in the system,” she said. “There seems to be a lack of personnel at the Office of the
Director of Public Prosecutions.” She went on: “You would have observed by now the very
important role played by them. They bring cases to court and indicate whether those cases are ready for trial.
“The judge is here ready to work and you all are here . . .,” Reifer stressed, “so I am now directing you to return on Thursday as it appears as though the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is very short of staff.
“I do not suppose that by tomorrow there will be anyone to fill in for Mrs. Babb-Agard,” she said.
The judge further directed “those of you who are employees to return to your place of employment”.
Principal Crown Counsel Elwood Watts was present at the Supreme Court today. However, his presence was needed in the Court of Appeal and in the No. 5 Supreme Court where he was representing the Crown in a trial.
Currently, Principal Crown Counsels Alliston Seale and Lancelot Applewaite are before the Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad while Anthony Blackman was scheduled to be in court on Wednesday with bail applications and matters which were previously set and adjourned for that date.
Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney is on maternity leave while Crown Counsels Alison Burke and Rhea Drakes who were with the DPP’s office, recently joined the Solicitor General’s Chambers.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock Q.C., confirmed that the office is short of staff and there are challenges. He explained that five of his staff members have been reassigned “and we have gotten no replacements”.
The chief prosecutor said that he has already written to the Chief Personnel Officer thrice, requesting that his staff be replaced or sent back.
He gave the assurance that the Court “will be fully functioning tomorrow”.