Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), retired Justice Cecil Kennard has completed his review of the file on the Colwyn Harding baton rape case and has recommended that criminal charges be brought against two ranks and that at least five be disciplined.
He penned his recommendations yesterday and sent the file to the office of the crime chief who will then transmit it to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who will make a final pronouncement in the case which has been back and forth since it was made public in January. The delays came as a result of the police being instructed to conduct more investigations and the fact that based on protocol the file had to be sent to Kennard for his input.
When contacted, Kennard told Stabroek News that he is finished with the file and had sent same to the crime chief. This newspaper was unable to make contact with crime chief Leslie James to ascertain whether the file was in his possession.
“The file on Harding left today. I recommended criminal charges against two ranks and I would say the names and about five or six ranks: disciplinary actions”. While Kennard did not elaborate on the nature of the charges they may be assault related.
Kennard had previously indicated that criminally there was not a charge beyond assault as there was nothing in the file to indicate that Harding had been baton-raped.
Stabroek News understands that the constable who has been accused of committing the baton rape and brutally beating Harding while he was in custody at the Timehri Police Station is among the two recommended to face criminal charges.
Kennard said that the policemen who he recommended should be disciplined are above the rank of Sergeant. He explained that the crime chief will forward the file to the DPP.
He said that now that he has completed the Harding case he will turn his attention to the matter involving Alex Griffith who was shot in the mouth by a cadet officer.
He said that he doesn’t anticipate any difficulties with the Griffith matter. “It will not create plenty difficulties as the Harding case”, he said.
Asked whether the inclusion of the medical report of a local doctor in the Harding file was helpful, he said that he would prefer to refrain from answering such a question and reiterated that he would have liked to see the inclusion of the medical report of the Jamaican doctor that Harding’s lawyer Nigel Hughes had spoken about.
He stressed that he was very careful in his conclusion and spent a lot of time studying the case as it was a public interest matter.
According to Kennard, he used his experience and looked at the evidence before him while noting that “you can’t please everyone”.
He said that he had to ensure that he looked at what was before him in ensuring that his conscience is clear.
Harding has alleged that the constable pushed a condom covered baton up his anus when he (the rank) turned up at the house he was staying to investigate a break and enter allegation. The matter was first publicized in the media in January and his mother said that she had previously informed senior police officials about what had happened to her son but nothing was done.
The constable was placed under close arrest shortly after the incident was publicized and several ranks transferred.