Driver, not youth should be held accountable in middle-finger case

- Jagdeo

The driver of a car which was in front of a presidential convoy on the day 18-year-old Kevin Simon allegedly displayed his middle finger at the convoy, should be held accountable for his actions, rather than the teenager, President Bharrat Jagdeo said on Friday.

The young man, who was charged after he allegedly showed his middle finger to the President’s convoy, appeared for the fourth time before Magistrate Judy Latchman at the Sparendaam Magistrates’ Court on August 29 in connection with the offence.

Speaking at a media briefing at Office of the President (OP) on Friday, Jagdeo said that on the day in question he was being driven along the East Coast Demerara public road when the convoy encountered the driver of a car which was in its path. He said the police outriders attempted to signal the driver to pull to the left hand side of the roadway but this failed and the convoy eventually overtook the car from the inside.

He said that it was during this that “someone stuck out a middle finger at the convoy, not me, I didn’t see the person”. He said “it’s the driver who should be responsible, I don’t think the young man, who is probably misguided, should face prosecution.”

The President said the issue has been sensationalised, adding “the fringe group, we see them protesting again, the group of loonies, looking for a cause”.

He reiterated, “I think it’s the driver, just imagine you trying to overtake him, you and your family, how he will treat you? So I think it’s the driver who should face the consequences for disobeying the police order.”

The initial charge against Simon was provocation of a breach of the peace, but early last week, the charge was withdrawn and another is to be instituted under another act. This newspaper understands that the reason for this change is that the first charge had been instituted under Clause 141 (b) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, which according to his lawyer’s representative Faye Barker, who appeared on the defendant’s behalf, her client would have had to utter something to be in breach of the law under that section. Instead, she continued, the charge should have been filed under Clause 141 (a), which deals with the use of gesticulations, insulting or obscene language.
Simon first appeared in court on August 9, after the alleged incident on the previous day.

During this first appearance, the youth was remanded and ordered to return on August 16, on which day he was further remanded until last week Wednesday.

Before Simon’s penultimate appearance at court, his attorney, Nigel Hughes, along with his father Ewald Simon had on August 16, on his behalf, made a bail application in the High Court which was granted the defendant in the sum of $5000.

As such, upon his appearance in court on August 24, Simon’s matter was adjourned until last Tuesday, when he appeared and was further ordered to return on September 20.