-plans to sue state
AS he detailed the horrors he endured during his five-year stint in prison, former policeman Colin Bailey who was recently freed of murder after the prosecution disclosed it had no evidence against him, said that his life has been ruined.
“My life was totally devastated. I believe that the system has failed me miserably and this is not only happening now,” he said during a press conference held by his legal team, which is being led by attorney, Nigel Hughes.
Among other things, he disclosed that while incarcerated, he suffered a minor heart attack and also contracted the deadly coronavirus.
Bailey said he would always remember the day he was placed before the court and remanded to the Camp Street Prison for allegedly killing his partner of 21 years, Sirmattie Ramnaress, in 2013.
“There I was… haven’t done anything, but I was remanded,” he said as he remembered walking through the prison doors and being confronted by other inmates, several of whom he had arrested and placed behind bars.
Bailey said he also remembers the day of the 2017 prison riots when he was also attacked but was later saved by a prison officer. He was subsequently transferred to the Lusignan Prison where he stayed for some time. Following the 2020 fire, he was taken to the Timehri Prison and remained there until his trial came up in the High Court.
“Prison itself is a story people won’t understand…. People think that everyone in prison has done something wrong,” Bailey said, as he explained that there are many innocent people like himself behind bars.
He also recounted the inhuman treatment and hardships he faced while on remand and the emotional scars associated with being moved from prison to prison.
Hughes along with attorneys Ronald Daniels and Konyo Sandiford are representing Bailey who was freed last week by High Court Judge Jo-Ann Barlow in the middle of his trial.
Bailey was charged with the capital offence three years after the crime was committed and after a preliminary inquiry in the Magistrates’ Court, it was found that there was “sufficient” evidence against him to face a judge and jury. Because of the type of offence, he could not be granted bail and had to remain incarcerated. He was committed to stand trial on November 22, 2016.
On October 13, as the three final witnesses were about to be called by state prosecutor Sarah Martin, Justice Barlow asked her if their testimonies would tie Bailey to the crime. In response, she conceded that there was no evidence linking him to the crime. Hughes then made a submission for the charge to be dismissed.
The judge later remarked that no charge should be instituted against someone when there is no evidence to properly prosecute him or her. She expressed her dissatisfaction with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for wasting judicial time.
Meanwhile, Bailey’s attorneys are calling for a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to be conducted into the operations of the office of the DPP. They posited that the inquiry should focus mainly on malicious prosecution and wrongful incarceration, given that their client spent over five years on remand when there was no evidence against him.
The attorneys during the press conference which was held at their Cross Street law office, made several recommendations on how the matter should be handled. In addition to the CoI, the attorneys are calling for an investigation into similar cases.
Attorney Sandiford questioned the grounds on which the DPP recommended that a murder charge be laid and why he was charged in the first place, when there was no evidence to uphold the indictment.
The attorneys argued that not only was his detention unlawful, but that there was a delay in him being afforded a trial within a reasonable time.
According to Sandiford, there was no evidence linking Bailey to the crime and he had been suffering innocently behind bars.
While citing the remarks of Justice Barlow, Sandiford said: “There is something fundamentally wrong with a justice system when a citizen can be charged, committed and indicted when there is no evidence connecting the citizen with the commission of the offence.”
She questioned : “Can you imagine your son or daughter caught in this web? Who would you go to for assistance?”
Sandiford emphasised that this is a clear case of miscarriage of justice which she described as a “virus eating away at the system.”
Meanwhile, attorney Daniels said all that they are attempting to do is get justice for their client.
“This is not a personal attack against the prosecutorial arm of the state,” he said, before calling for a CoI into the operations of the DPP Chambers concerning the incarceration, detention and prosecution of innocent persons when there is no evidence.
Daniels said that they had written to the Bar Association of Guyana and are currently awaiting a response.
The attorneys have signalled their intention to file a lawsuit against the state for the malicious prosecution and wrongful imprisonment of Bailey.
The Guyana Chronicle had reported that Ramnaress was found dead on the morning of August 31, 2013, with a stab wound and injuries to her head and body, in the garage of her Diamond, East Bank Demerara home.
While petrol had been thrown all over her house, it was the bond at the back of the yard that was set alight and destroyed. The police suspected that Bailey was involved in her death. However, he had told police investigators that at the time of his wife’s demise, he was on active duty and therefore had a solid alibi.
Bailey’s former co-accused, Colin Grant, has confessed to the crime and is currently awaiting sentencing before Justice Barlow.
Recently, attorney-at-law Dexter Todd brought a $100M lawsuit against the state for the wrongful imprisonment of Cloyd Harris, who was in 2019 freed from a murder charge after being on remand for seven years.
Harris, who was freed at the Sparendaam Magistrates’ Court following the conclusion of the PI, had been charged for the December 22, 2012 murder of his cousin, Derrick Cox, 71, a shopkeeper, at Ramos Street, Plaisance, East Coast Demerara.
Back in October 2013, Magistrate Alex Moore had committed Harris to stand trial at the High Court, but owing to the negligence of the Clerk of Court attached to the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court, who was supposed to submit the case jacket and deposition to the DPP but never did, the matter was stalled.
Then in 2016, when some amount of pressure was brought to bear on the relevant authorities, the documents were finally submitted to the DPP, who subsequently wrote advising Magistrate Moore to reopen the PI since one of the exhibits had not been properly identified.
On December 27, 2018, when the PI was reopened, Harris retained the services of Todd, who seized the opportunity to re-examine the witnesses as well as the evidence. And what he found was that the main witness had never testified, and when the case was finally put to him, he recanted, saying that he was mistaken; that he never saw Harris at the crime scene at all. The accused was eventually freed by the magistrate.
This being the case, Todd, as directed by his client, sued the state for $100M for malicious prosecution and wrongful detention.