(Trinidad Guardian) The families of Krystiana Sankar and Yannis “Pebbles” Augustine will have to find $6 million each for their freedom.
This after the women were both granted the hefty bail by Magistrate Aden Stroude yesterday when they appeared in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court charged in the $3.8 million drug bust in Westmoorings.
But the women had to spend yet another night in jail as their families did not have enough time to present the necessary documentation before a Clerk of the Peace to secure their immediate freedom yesterday.
Sankar and Augustine reappeared alongside co-accused Aruba Eligon and Jervon Cole in the 4A Court for their bail hearing, having spent the weekend in jail after their bail hearing was adjourned on Friday so the police could conduct necessary searches.
Yesterday was another long day for the accused as they arrived at court at around 8.30 am and it was another two hours before the matter was called. When the matter started their attorneys continued to question the prosecution’s stance concerning bail. The courtroom was cleared just before lunch when the prosecution was asked to present specifics of their case by defence attorney Criston J Williams, who represented Augustine.
The matter resumed at 1.30 pm and Magistrate Stroude delivered his bail ruling delivered at around 2.15 pm. Augustine, of St Lucien Road, Diego Martin, broke down in tears when she was called and heard the ruling.
But while Sankar, of Blue Range, Diego Martin and Augustine, a lifeguard and swim coach, may possibly be out of prison today, their two male co-accused will not have that option.
Eligon was denied bail outright as this was his third drug-related charge. He was sentenced for trafficking in 2011 and paid a fine in another matter 2017.
Cole’s only previous brushes with the law were road traffic offences, but the magistrate was reluctant to grant him bail because it could not be proven that he lived at the two addresses he submitted —Waterwheel Trace and Sea Trace, Diego Martin, respectively. Cole then gave a third address where he said he lived with his girlfriend. The court will now reconsider his bail application next Monday after this new information is verified.
The four were arrested last week Tuesday following a raid at Apartment 1 at Regent Gardens, Westmoorings, by a Special Operations Response Team of the T&T Police Service. An estimated $3.8 million worth of drugs ($3.4m in marijuana and $400,000 in cocaine) were seized in the bust.
The four were jointly charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. Sankar was also charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition after a gun was found during the raid.
Bail application process
All bail applications are primarily governed by the Bail Act.
There is a presumption in favour of the granting of bail unless the prosecution can produce substantial grounds to satisfy the court that an accused would either abscond, interfere with witnesses or they should be detained for his own protection. (Section 6 of the Bail Act)
The Bail Act provides conditions and factors a court should take into consideration when considering the granting of bail to accused.
The first application for bail is made to a magistrate who has the power to remand an applicant in custody pending a police report or the criminal record of the accused person.
Bail under $10,000 is considered to be own bail and can be accessed simply by the accused ‘signing’ their bond. This type of bail is reserved for minor offences.
Where bail is granted ‘with a surety to be approved’, the accused person will have to find a landowner (normally a family member or a close friend) whose property value must exceed that of the bail.
The property must be properly valued, as in the event of a breach the court has the power to seize the property and sell it on the open market in satisfaction of the sureties bond.
For this purpose, the property should have a valuation not more than three months old; there must be a certified copy of the title documents along with two utility bills and two forms of identification. It is also necessary that the land should be free from encumbrances, including a mortgage and is not being used for the purposes of bail in any other court in Trinidad and Tobago.
The documents are submitted to a clerk of the peace who checks the validity of the deed and whether or not the deed has been used to obtain bail before. If the deed is not approved it cannot be used to obtain bail.
A magistrate who sets bail has the power, if they believe there is a risk of a breach of bail, to set conditions such as to surrender a passport and the reporting of the accused person to a police station.
Where bail is refused by a magistrate, the Act provides for an appeal to a judge of the High Court ‘in chambers’ and if the High Court judge refuses bail, by way of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
A magistrate cannot set bail or vary where a High Court refuses unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances.