Wednesday 15 July, 2020

BDF Court-martial: Two charges dropped, case coming to close

June 3rd report

June 3rd report

The Coast Guard captain on trial for offences against military law will know his fate today as the Court Martial is set to conclude.

Yesterday, Monday, June 3, 2019, the captain himself, Lieutenant David Harewood took the stand – a move his counsel described as “demonstrating integrity”. Following this, defence counsel Vincent Watson and Prosecutor Jamar Bourne gave their closing addresses in the matter that started on May 27.

Harewood was initially charged with four offences but two were withdrawn. Those related to two counts of communicating with the enemy contrary to Section 36 (2) of the Defence Act Cap 159, in that Harewood knowingly communicated with Akem Waithe aka “Ellis” between August 7 and 10, 2018, via a BDF cellphone and that sometime in January 2018, he knowingly communicated with a known drug trafficker.

However, on Friday the court ruled that Waithe did not fit the definition of an enemy in the Act:

Section 2 of the Act defines “enemy” as (a) persons engaged in armed operations against the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) or any Force co-operating therewith, and (b) armed mutineers, armed rebels, armed rioters and pirates.

It was also held that the prosecution did not prove that Harewood communicated with a known drug trafficker.

The charges accusing Harewood of failing to inform his superiors of a threat to a fellow officer - OS Marlon Scott and conducting unauthorised information-gathering operations, conduct unbecoming of a commissioned officer in the BDF remained.

As the defence counsel gave his final remarks yesterday he highlighted some of the prosecution’s failures, according to him, in proving the case.

In respect of the first-mentioned charge, Watson maintains that Harewood had no knowledge of a threat as the “statement taken in context did not constitute a threat”. Harewood, in a statement, said he and another officer allegedly met with a person in Baxter’s Road. That person claimed that he gave OS Marlon Scott $20 000 in relation to a matter of drug trafficking and that the person said “nothing worked and he was going to **** him up but he will let it die there.”

Despite his belief that there was no threat, the defence also argued that Harewood did report the matter to his superiors.

A witness (Major Wendy Yearwood) for the defence on Monday told the court that she had a conversation with Harewood in respect of certain information and she advised him to speak to those higher in authority.

Harewood also claimed he reported information regarding Scott to a Captain Deane but when the panel called Deane as a witness he said he could not recall Harewood telling him about a threat to OS Scott.

The defence also emphasized that there was no policy regarding the unauthorised gathering of information – something Yearwood testified.

“[There is] nothing prohibiting the gathering of information [and] there is some discretion an officer can exercise", Watson said.

In the prosecutor’s address, he disagreed that Harewood had an authority to filter information and decide that no threat was no longer alive - “as an officer, it was his duty to pass it on to his immediate commander.”

The prosecution pointed out “inconsistencies” in the evidence regarding when Harewood had the meetings and when the information was passed. According to Bourne, Harewood had the meeting regarding Scott in January 2018 and claimed he passed on the information to Deane the next day but still claimed he spoke to Yearwood in February.

“Why then would he be seeking advice from Major Yearwood if he had already made a report to a superior?”

Furthermore, Bourne said it took 10 months before Harewood gave the information to investigators. He suggested that the meetings were for more than gathering information.

Bourne spoke of the unauthorized meetings and the impact it potentially had on the BDF.

“If a member of the public sees a member of the BDF with persons suspected of illegal activities it has the inevitable capability of bringing the BDF into disrepute.”

He said Harewood’s actions adversely affected military discipline and good order.

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