Chief magistrate Evaline Baptiste has denied bail to Earl “Seko” Grant and Denny Shillingford who have been charged in connection with a December 2010 fire at the home of former magistrate GON Emmanuel.
Grant, a US citizen returned to Dominica on May 27, 2013 after being away for three years. He was arrested at the airport on his arrival and formally charged for conspiring with Denny Shillingford to set fire to the home of Emmanuel.
Shillingford was charged with arson.
In court on Thursday police inspectors, Claude Weekes and Michael Laudat, told the court that the men were “flight risks” and they feared that they would interfere with witnesses. They also said investigations into the matter were ongoing and bail should not be granted to the men.
David Bruney, who represented Shillingford, expressed disappointment that the prosecution was objecting to bail for his client saying that he “was a flight risk.”
“He always attends to his matters and I doubt he even has a passport…he has been forthright, is a model defendant and have even made admissions … so I am surprised at the prosecution,” Bruney said.
He gave notice that as soon as his client, who is presently serving a prison sentence, is released he will be filing documents in the high court for bail.
Dawn Yearwood-Stewart, who represents Grant along with Zean Dyer, told the court that while her client is infact a US citizen, has a fixed address and had come to Dominica to “face the music on his own free will.”
“He paid his flight … he is here to face the battle, he has fully co-operated and is now asking for bail,” she said. “He is not a flight risk, holds a Dominican passport and is prepared to report to the St. Joseph police station everyday if the court so desires.”
However, Inspector Weekes contended that the offense is “serious even if it’s bailable.”
Grant, he said, was aware that the police wanted him for questioning and had made that public pronouncement publicly on a radio programme but never returned.
“He has a powerful incentive to abscond and we strongly believe that he won’t make himself available for his trial … the court needs to also take into account the public dimension and it can bring public disorder so we are asking that bail be denied,” Weekes said.
In response Baptiste said the prosecution had failed to show the court evidence of the men interfering with witnesses and so they had failed in that regard.
On the issue of absconding, she stated that while the prosecution had not brought forth much evidence, she was concerned about a statement of the DPP which requested Grant to come to Dominica or the state would seek extradition.
She said that it is clear that he did not return on his own free will since he is a US citizen and may fear losing his citizenship.
Based on that, she said she was denying bail.
The Preliminary Inquiry in the matter is set for September 26, 2013.