One of the Crown’s leading prosecutors has warned that there will be “no special treatment for anybody” – including fellow members of the Bar – when it comes to criminal matters before the court.
Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale made the declaration as a theft and money-laundering case against attorney-at-law Cheraine Nicole Parris came up for hearing once again before Justice Randall Worrell in the No. 2 Supreme Court this afternoon.
The top prosecutor made it clear that the “generous” number of adjournments given in the case was not sitting well with him, as certain undertakings made by the accused Parris had not been honoured.
Principal Crown Counsel Seale said: “I was informed that notwithstanding the generous amounts of adjournments, nothing has been done.
“This is a worrying situation because I do not want it to be said that there is in Barbados a law for the Medes and a law for the Persians; in that we bend over backward when there are attorneys… charged before the court for criminal offences and we allow the matter to stay in abeyance because we do not act with any urgency because they are one of ours.
“I can’t have that be said about the Department of Public Prosecutions which I represent…. “Because we believe in justice for all. This is our mantra and there is no special treatment for anybody.”
Parris is accused of stealing $302,000 from Ashleigh Morrison between April 15 and August 16, 2010. The Crown further alleges that she engaged in money laundering by conducting a series of transactions in moving the cash, being the proceeds of crime.
Seale said: “We do realise in some cases it is better for a complainant to be restored in their original position than have an accused person sit in prison and being fed with taxpayers money when the complainant can at least be compensated and put themselves back on sound footing.”
He pulled no punches in stating that he believed that the accused lawyer was “playing the system” by gaining the adjournments and that this would not be allowed to continue as it was not fair to the complainant.
Seale added: “You have put her in a position where she is almost a pauper and that can not be fair and all she wants is her money back, that is what she has said. But we are now in a position where I believe that the accused is playing the system and
I am going to be very frank and I told her so”
He revealed that at one point complainant Morrison, who was present in court, was very ill and was still recovering.
“And every time this matter comes up the accused says to the court ‘I am going to make amends’ and kicks the can further down the road. ‘I am going to make amends’ and every person in this whole scenario has bent over backwards.
“Myself and the court have given her relatively long adjournments so that we can get this matter settled not because of any special favour for her but because at the end of the day a complainant does not benefit when their money is gone and they have to pay taxes to keep this person in prison.”
Making it clear that the time for adjournments was over, prosecutor Seale requested that the judge set a date for the trial to begin.
“This is a woman who by ordinary standards was not wealthy but saving her money and now she is placed in a position of impecuniosity. That cannot be fair and I am not caring about who you are… a man that is wronged should have his day in court and all I will say is I want this matter set for trial.”
When Judge Worrell addressed Parris on what Seale had said, she responded: “I listened carefully.” He also informed her that the case, which he said had been before the court since 2017, would go to trial on September 23.