Loud applause resounded Thursday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court when Norman McLean and Evelyn Sita Ramlal were told that they had been discharged in the matter in which they were accused of forging an adoption order for a child.
In a courtroom filled to capacity, presiding Magistrate Fazil Azeez informed that a prima facie case had not been made out against the defendants and so the charge levelled against them had been discharged.
The particulars of the charge stated that between December 10, 2004 and March 18, 2009, at Georgetown, with intent to defraud, they conspired with each other and person or persons unknown to forge a certain judicial document; that is to say, an adoption order in respect of Arianne Anastacia Vidya McCall, purporting to show that the said adoption order was issued on December 14, 2000, knowing same to be false. The proceedings into the preliminary inquiry (PI) culminated after facilitating ten witnesses along with submissions from both the defence and prosecution.
Over 35 minutes, Magistrate Azeez detailed the various factors the court took into consideration in arriving at its decision and in his closing remarks said that the court would be upholding the no-case submission made by the defence as the prosecution failed in its bid to advance sufficient evidence to make out a prima facie case against the defendants.
Senior Counsel Rex McKay, in expressing gratitude with the pronouncement, said that the decision arrived at by the court reflected its reliance on the legal principles and procedures which it should follow.
Meanwhile, relatives and other associates of the defendants who remained silent throughout the magistrate’s address immediately started to clap in agreement with the court’s decision.
They were sighs of relief around the courtroom and echoes of “it’s finally over” and “the long wait is finally over.”
Mclean and Ramlal, though not as vocal, wore the obvious look of satisfaction on their faces as they rose from their seats to be greeted by well-wishers.
After the decision was handed down, Assistant Superintendant Denise Griffith informed the court that there are several other matters against McLean and Ramlal emanating from the said incident for which advice is to be sought from the Director of Public Prosecu-tions (DPP). Magistrate Azeez however cautioned that his focus was to deal with what was before him.
The court then informed the prosecution that an adjournment would be granted until September 5 for reports stemming from the advice sought from the DPP as it relates to the way forward in those other matters.
The defendants were represented by SCs Rex McKay, Edward Luckhoo, Keith Massiah, Sase Narain and attorney Nigel Hughes.
On April 27, 2008, then Supreme Court Registrar Ramlal, and McLean, a retired Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force were charged with four counts of conspiracy to defraud.
The jointly-charged duo was not required to plead to the indictable charges when they were read to them and the two were subsequently admitted to bail in the sum of $850,000. Ramlal was granted bail to the tune of $340,000 while McLean, who had two additional charges levelled against him, was granted bail in the sum of $510,000.