Judge raps probation department in Berbice over tardiness

Justice Franklyn Holder yesterday chastised the Probation and Social Services Department in Berbice after an officer arrived late at court when he was expected to present a report on convicted prisoners Hardat ‘Vicky’ Singh and Kapaldeo ‘Rajin’ Singh.

“It seems like the Berbice officers lack respect for this court. This is the second time an officer has attended this court late,” the judge said.

“There is always a reason for being late… I am not happy with the way respect is given to this court,” said the judge while addressing the apologetic Probation and Social Services Officer Mitford Warde.

The officer, who was 10 minutes late, apologized, explaining that he singlehandedly had to manage the Whim, Corentyne office, which was filled with persons seeking his assistance.

“Your Honour, I am based at Whim, I had to leave several persons there. I even had to leave a United Nations representative, who overlooks the volunteers assigned at the Probation and Welfare Service, to get here,” Warde explained.

“That is a problem for your department, not mine,” responded the judge.

“Your Honour, concerning the report, the request was received by the New Amsterdam office on Friday. I was in Georgetown on Monday, and subsequently Tuesday to attend meetings in relation to my job. I am humbly asking for a week to prepare the report. I do not know if it’s possible,” pleaded the visibly embarrassed officer.

However, he received a reprieve. “I do appreciate it was a short time for you to have had the report done. I will give you until April 11,” Justice Holder said.

Warde thereafter explained that his department is currently short of staff and would prefer if notices can be sent a week or two in advance for the preparation of probation reports, and the judge readily agreed.

On March 24, two of the four persons charged with the murder of Brian Chinapen were acquitted. The other two confessed to the lesser count of manslaughter.

The guilty pleas by Hardat and Kapaldeo Singh, which were accepted by State Counsel Dionne Mc Cammon on advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions came after the second witness had testified for the prosecution.

Their sentencing had been set for yesterday, pending the probation report.

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