The Attorney General’s Chambers yesterday sought to distance itself from the recent dismissal of a causing death by dangerous driving charge against attorney Keisha Chase, who was acquitted due to insufficient evidence after key documents in the case disappeared.
“…We refute any assertion implied or expressed that we are in any way responsible or connected in any form or manner for the disappearance of any statement or booklet in the matter of the Police v Keisha Chase,” the Chambers said in a statement that was issued yesterday.
Magistrate Allan Wilson on January 31st dismissed the charge against Chase, who was on trial for causing the death of a pedestrian, Julian Leitch.
The magistrate had ordered that the police close its case after futile attempts to locate the original case file, a page from the statement of Constable Kwesi Carmichael and other documents which were ordered to be produced from the Attorney General’s Chambers, where they were reportedly sent.
The magistrate ruled that the absence of the documents rendered it impossible for Carmichael to continue his testimony, or for another rank, who photographed the scene of the accident, to give evidence.
At that time, it was not made clear why the documents were at the AG’s Chambers and who had control and possession of them while the case file was there.
Chase was charged with causing the death of Leitch on November 10th, 2015, on Duncan Street, Georgetown.
In its statement yesterday, the Chambers explained that a High Court civil motion was filed in May of 2016 in relation to the case and conduct was then given to former Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon on June 14th, 2016.
All pleadings, the statement said, were closed in the matter and submissions were filed by Kissoon during August, 2016. The matter was later given to Leslyn Noble, Senior Legal Advisor, to attend a Court sitting on August 30th, 2016, when the matter was adjourned for decision. Subsequently, Joan Edghill-Stuart was assigned to go for the decision in August, 2017.
On August 28th, 2017, the decision was rendered and an Order Nisi was discharged.
According to the statement, in the latter part of the year of 2017, a call was made to the Chambers asking for any documentation it may have in respect to the case.
The statement noted that a file containing photocopied statements was found in Kissoon’s filing cabinet and was sent over to the Director of Public Prosecutions immediately. Subsequently, it added, an officer called from the Director of Public Prosecutions asking for an additional documentation, that is, a booklet. However, it noted that after extensive searching, it was not found in the Chambers.
“During the month of January, 2018 further searches were conducted by the staff and the Police was also given access to the record of the pleadings and the entire High Court file to also conduct searches,” the statement said, while noting that the police verified that after an examination of the file and statements only copies of statements and not originals were attached to the pleadings in the Chambers of the Attorney General. It further said no accident booklet was in its possession.
“It is the practice that only copies of Police files are sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers when there is a civil matter filed in the High Court in relation to a criminal charge. The Chambers of the Attorney General does not conduct criminal prosecutions and [therefore] would have no useful purpose in uplifting or keeping in its possession the original files in these matters,” the statement explained.
Chase’s lawyer, Roger Yearwood, made a no-case submission, which was upheld by Magistrate Wilson, who told the court that the prosecution failed to present any evidence that the defendant was driving in a manner dangerous to the public, and that she was driving with speed.
Leitch died at the Georgetown Public Hospital shortly after he was hit near the Survival Supermarket at Vlissengen Road and Duncan Street.
He sustained several injuries, including a fractured skull and a broken neck.
It was reported that Chase had rushed him to the hospital following the incident, but he died while receiving treatment.
The attorney was charged nearly four months after the accident had occurred. Attorney Kim Kyte, who is now serving in the Attorney General’s Chambers as Solicitor General, represented Chase in the early stages of the court case.
Some observers, including Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran, have said that the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of vital documents from the case file warrant an investigation.