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Fireman and ex-girlfriend freed of sexual assault charges

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Fireman and ex-girlfriend freed of sexual assault charges

Almost a decade after they were charged with seven counts of grievous sexual assault of a teenage track and field athlete, a fireman from Tobago and his former girlfriend have been freed.

Machael James and Murisha Murray were discharged by Senior Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan in the Scarborough Magistrates’ Court after he upheld an application by their attorney Martin George over repeated delays by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in prosecuting the case.

James and Murray were charged with attacking the teenaged schoolgirl at Mason Hall on various dates between August and October 2014.

George presented a detailed and lengthy record of the progression of the case to highlight the numerous delays caused by the DPP’s Office.

He told the court the case was initially set for trial in August 2015 but had to be postponed due to delays by the DPP’s Office in assigning a prosecutor to the case. The prosecutor was eventually assigned almost two years later but was not prepared to proceed and made numerous requests to postpone the case.

George pointed out that the case was further delayed as the alleged victim repeatedly failed to attend court to testify because she migrated to the United States. He also claimed that the DPP’s Office was expected to make an application under the Evidence Act for the victim’s statements to police to be used in lieu of her testimony in court but that was delayed after the prosecutor initially assigned to the case was replaced by a colleague.

He argued that it was patently unfair and inherently unjust to continue the case in the circumstances and described the procedural history of the case as an egregious and oppressive abuse of process.

He suggested that while the DPP’s Office, the police officer who charged the duo, and the victim repeatedly missed hearings, his clients did not have that option as warrants for their arrests had been immediately issued.

Magistrate Rambachan upheld the application and discharged the duo.

By: Derek Achong

Guardian Newspaper
Trinidad and Tobago

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