St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Dr. Henry Browne QC, defense lawyer for Kenrick “Rico” Simmonds and Tenielle “Blaze” Percival, says he is disturbed by his clients’ guilty verdict and will be filing an appeal.
Simmonds and Percival, along with co-defendant Greg Williamson of Antigua, were on Friday found guilty on several drug charges in the magistrate court.
Percival and Williamson were found guilty of Importation of Cannabis, Importation with intent to supply and possession of cannabis.
Simmonds was found guilty of seven charges including importation of cannabis and aiding and abetting his co-defendants with importation and intent to supply cannabis.
Senior Magistrate Josephine Mallalieu sentenced Simmonds to $300,000 to be paid in 5 months or in default serve 4 years in prison.
Percival was fined $60,000 to be paid in 3 months or in default serve 4 years in prison.
Williamson, who has been on remand since his arrest, was fined $30,000 to be paid in one month or in default serve 23 months in jail.
Dr. Henry Browne QC, spoke exclusively with WINN FM.
“The conviction brought down by the magistrate against Kenrick Simmonds and Percival is very disturbing, we are very dissatisfied, very, very dissatisfied. The conviction borders on a travesty of justice. As far as I am concerned, as I said to the magistrate, the prosecution of Simmonds and Percival sprang out from malice, it was a malicious prosecution and she ought to have stopped it in its tracks, she did not and I am very dissatisfied and disappointed and I’m going to take it all the way to the court of appeal and the privy council if I have to. That demonstrates the level of my dissatisfaction, not out of emotion, but as a lawyer who has dealt with some of the most difficult criminal cases in this country but as Mr. Trump would say, see you in court.”
The attorney said the prosecution offered no evidence that proved his clients’ guilt except for electronic messages retrieved from Simmonds’ phone. Dr. Browne said the magistrate should never have allowed those messages to be entered as evidence.
“After more than a quarter of a century of experience at the criminal bar, I say without hesitation that there is not any evidence, it is not a question of whether there is no good or sufficient evidence, there is no evidence upon which any reasonable court would have pegged a conviction against any of those two men. Kenrick Simmonds was accosted by the police, stopped and searched and his father’s vehicle which he was driving also was searched and nothing was found he was found a quarter of a mile away. He was clean, the vehicle was clean, yet they arrested him, seized his father’s vehicle then we had to get bail for him. A second search was made then they said according to the prosecution, they searched his phone and found certain messages that in itself, is unconstitutional. I say to the magistrate even though it is unconstitutional and you permit it into evidence there is nothing in those messages which point to the omission of any crime.”
WINN FM also spoke with Director of Public Prosecutions Valston Graham, who said it was a clear case of Simmonds and Percival conspiring with Williamson and the Dominican shot by police at the scene, to import marijuana into St. Kitts at Conaree Beach on October 1st.
“The magistrate was presented with a combination of both direct and circumstantial evidence. It was a clear case of a joint enterprise between the three individuals involved and in my view the magistrate correctly ruled having considered all the evidence. One has to remember especially in the case of circumstancial evidence, an independent piece of evidence might not necessarily point to guilt, but when one takes all the evidence together into consideration, it is up to the magistrate to determine whether or not in his or her view, that those pieces of evidence taken together in fact point to guilt.”
The DPP spoke to the Whatsapp messages retrieved from Simmonds’ phone.
“Mr. Simmonds had clear Whatsapp messages from his phone to one of the other’s accused phone indicating and giving clear directions as to the area as to where the boat should have came in. If that is not clear evidence that implicates him in a crime, I do not know what is. As to whether or not that evidence should have been admitted, that is a clear matter for the magistrate to determine. The magistrate considered the fact that the police in fact obtained a search warrant to search the phone, retrieved the information from the phone and properly admitted it.”
The Prosecutor says he has no difficulty with the convicted men appealing the case since every defendant who is not satisfied with their conviction and or sentence is entitled by law to appeal.