SIX men who were part of a group of remanded prisoners who rioted in 2017, when they were told their cases would have to restart because of the judicial appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, have been freed, after spending almost a decade in prison.
The six – Akili Charles, Chicki Portello, Anton Cambridge, Kareem Gomez, Levi Joseph and Israel “Arnold” Lara – were this morning discharged of the murder of a Diego Martin man in 2010.
In discharging the six, Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle upheld a no case submission by their attorneys, who claimed there was insufficient evidence linking them to the murder of Cepep worker Russell Antoine on May 13, 2010.
The six were among those prisoners who rioted at the magistrates’ court in April 2017, when they were told their almost-decade-long preliminary inquiry was one of those that had to be restarted.
After Ayers-Caesar resigned, days after she was appointed a judge, it was discovered she had left 53 cases unfinished. Some were almost a decade old.
Ayers-Caesar has since filed a lawsuit claiming she did not resign voluntarily, but was forced to do so because of a discrepancy in the number of part-heard matters she reportedly left behind. She also said she did not intend to mislead the Chief Justice about the number of outstanding matters,but those cases “could easily have been dealt with by another magistrate,” as the law provided for it.
Justice Carol Gobin ruled in January that the law did not contemplate continuation of a part-heard matter by a magistrate other than the one who started it.
The six were represented by Wayne Sturge, Criston J Williams and Danielle Rampersad.