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The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has  indicated that the Crown in the Michelle Reckley  fraud case has filed an appeal of the presiding Magistrate’s decision based on, an erroneous application of the law.

The statement from that office  noted that the Prosecutors are also requesting that The Court of Appeal hear the Appeal at the earliest possible opportunity.

The statement added that Magistrate Ambrose Armbrister made serious and grave errors in the law by dropping all 22 money laundering charges that were against Michelle Reckley and her co-accused.

The Prosecutors say, “the law provides that an indictable offence has no statutory time limitation as set forth in section 213(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code Act (CPC).

“Money Laundering is an indictable offence.  It is noteworthy, that in 2017, the CPC was amended to make it absolutely clear that an indictable offence is “any offence which is triable on information before the Supreme Court”, as per section 2 thereof.”

The statement explained that Money Laundering is an indictable offence because it is triable on information before the Supreme Court.

“The time limit of six months to lay charges before a magistrate’s court is only applicable to a strictly summary offence. It so happens that Money Laundering is an indictable offence which may also be tried in the Magistrate’s Court, by a decision of the Crown, as provided for in section 58(8) of the CPC. The Crown elected to have the indictable matter tried summarily”.

In addition, the Crown’s view is that the Magistrate erred in failing to find that Section 20 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Act allows charges to be brought under a repealed Act in the circumstances provided for in the Interpretation and General Clauses Act.

Christopher Symonette, Stephanie Collie, Kylon Vincent and James Wildgoose on Friday walked out  Magistrate Court  10 free of the charges,   as the four were accused of money laundering.

This came  after Magistrate Armbrister explained that he had no jurisdiction to hear the cases as charges 8-14, 20-25, 28-34, along with count 38 and 39 were statute bound – that is all offences occurred under the old crime act.

He argued that the new law stipulates that a person must be charged with related offenses within six months of committing that offence.

However, the prosecution argued that the offenses are indictable, clearing the way for the court to hear them.

Queens Counsel Attorney Wayne Munroe pointed out otherwise and the Magistrate agreed.

When asked if there were any witnesses relating solely to the money laundering charges, Mr. Munroe said there weren’t any and that he didn’t understand how the prosecution intended to charge all the accused without witnesses to support the claim.

To that, Magistrate Armbrister  then told the accused  that they did not have to return to court, as they didn’t have any charges.

He noted though that the prosecution could apply for a judicial review.

Queens Counsel Damian Gomez, who represented three of the persons  acquitted spoke to reporters immediately following the proceedings and maintained  that the charges should never  have been brought.

“This is the second occasion that I have come to court and seen persons brought before a magistrate without even a sheet of paper setting out the charges and it is clear from what happened this morning that no attention was given to almost half of the charges that were laid against the people who were before the courts.

“It’s really a very bad reflection on the prosecuting authorities that something as obvious as this was, it was not disserned and it really speaks to the malicious way in which prosecutions are now being pursued,” he said.

The court’s decision leaves former Deputy Director of Urban Renewal in Grand Bahama Michelle Reckley, James Hall and Joseph Lightborne to return to court for trial on October 14THon the remaining 19 charges. Mr. Gomez anticipates that the trio will also be vindicated.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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