A PRINCES TOWN bailor who was ordered by a magistrate to forfeit $75,000 in 2017, after the man for whom he stood bail did not show up in court, lost his appeal after he too failed to appear for its hearing on Wednesday.
Wilfred Granger appealed the magistrate’s order for him to forfeit the bail or serve six weeks of simple imprisonment, on the ground that he could not pay.
On Wednesday, Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Malcolm Holdip dismissed the appeal when Granger failed to turn up in court to argue it.
They had stood the matter down three hours earlier when they received a message that he was stuck in traffic. When he failed to turn up at the San Fernando High Court for the hearing, and no court staff could say where the message about being stuck in traffic came from, they affirmed the magistrate's orders.
However, they agreed the matter was an interesting one.
In response to the appeal, assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Nigel Pilgrim questioned whether a magistrate could proceed ex-parte when Granger was called on to argue why the bail sum should not be forfeited in May 2017.
Pilgrim’s contended that the magistrate did not have to proceed ex-parte under the Summary Courts Act. as magistrates do not have that jurisdiction, but the forfeiture order was correct, since once the bailed person failed to appear in court, forfeiture was automatic. He said the “show cause” summons was only done to give an opportunity for a bailor to be heard, according to natural justice.
In Granger’s case, he said, he was given that opportunity “to show cause,” but refused by failing to also attend court.
The judges agreed that once an opportunity is given and was not taken advantage of, no one could complain of being deprived of the right to due process.