Fired T&T minister to be charged over breathalyzer test

(Trinidad Express) Four days ago, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard gave instructions to charge former junior minister of National Security Collin Partap with failing to submit to a breathalyser test but police only yesterday began acting on his advice.

His instructions remained untouched until yesterday when acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams was alerted to the confidential memorandum, reliable sources said last night.

Gaspard, who left the country on official business on December 3 and returned on Thursday, confirmed last night that he had given the instructions on Monday for a charge of refusing to submit to a breath test.

Senior police officers confirmed last night that the file had been received but noted that they were initially unsure whether the elements of the offence had been made out.

Police were working last night to serve the Cumuto/Manzanilla MP with a summons to attend court on a later date to answer to the charge.

Partap was fired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar hours after he was detained by police outside the Zen nightclub, in Port of Spain, for allegedly refusing to submit himself to a breath test on August 25.

The charge against Partap is a routine offence, police said, but investigators treated the matter with sensitivity and ensured that all matters were explored before finally submitting a file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in late October.

But that file was missing a critical piece of evidence and a request was made for the police to obtain the missing information before the DPP could make a decision, the Express was told.

The DPP’s request for the additional information came two weeks after Williams had submitted the file to acting DPP Joan Paul-Honore on October 21.

Despite promising to deliver the report in a speedy fashion, the police took almost two months to complete their investigations into the matter.

According to police reports in the case, Partap was stopped by cops for activating the emergency siren in his vehicle and turning on the blue swivel lights at the corner of Keate and Frederick Streets, Port of Spain, where he was asked to take a breathalyser test.

Partap refused, according to the police, and was detained and taken to the Belmont Police Station where he contacted his lawyer.

It was only after the arrival at the station of acting Commissioner Williams about one hour later that Partap submitted to the test and was found to be within the legal limit.

The case attracted a public outcry over the delay by police to treat Partap’s case with urgency.

Acting Commissioner Williams also attracted negative comments because of his involvement in the matter, but he defended his appearance at the station saying that he had stepped in to take charge of the matter and that it was necessary for him to assume direct leadership in it.

Williams could not be reached last night to explain why the DPP’s instructions were not acted upon sooner.

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