Bascom’s charges: DPP asks presiding magistrate to recuse herself from case

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DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack has requested that Magistrate Leron Daly be removed from presiding over Police Sergeant Dion Bascom’s court case after she threatened to hold the Prosecutor, Police Legal Advisor Mandel Moore, in contempt of court.

On Wednesday, Magistrate Daly, who is hearing the three cyberbullying charges against Bascom at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, had given Moore 24 hours to produce a piece of video evidence or be sent to prison for contempt of court.

The video requested by the court is from a press conference hosted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) following the damning allegations made by Bascom; in particular, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum’s debunking of the claims made by Bascom in regard to his covering up of the probe into the murder of Ricardo “Paper Shorts” Fagundes.

Moore had previously been ordered by Magistrate Daly to produce the video evidence, but when he showed up at the court on Wednesday, he failed to do so. It was then that the Magistrate threatened that if he did not obey her order, he could be sent to prison for contempt of the court. As such, an oral undertaking to have the evidence presented to the court by Thursday at 11:00h was agreed upon.

However, when the matter was called on Thursday, the presiding Magistrate informed the court of the DPP’s request to have her removed from the case.

In the letter, which was seen by this publication, from Ali-Hack to Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, it was explained that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) was not in possession of an original video copy of the press conference that was requested by the court.

Magistrate Daly had ordered the Police Legal Advisor to source the video from online sources and present it as video evidence in preparation for the commencement of the trial, which is set for November 9.

However, the DPP argued in the correspondence to the acting Chancellor that the Police Legal Advisor could not produce a recording that the Police did not make and did not have possession of, to the court.

“In short, the Magistrate is insisting that the prosecution comply with an order that is legally and physically incapable of compliance,” the DPP contended in the letter.
Against this backdrop, Ali-Hack requested that the Chancellor consider exercising the power invested in her by Section 12 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Magistrates) Act, Chapter 3:05 and assign the case to another Magistrate.

“I recognise that the Magistrate does not appear to have a personal interest in the matter; however, the conduct of the Magistrate thus far, in my respectful view, constitutes sufficient reason for the exercise of Your Honour’s statutory power. Should the Learned Magistrate continued to adjudicate in this matter, there is every likelihood that the case will not be afforded a fair hearing. This may not be a miscarriage of justice, but will inevitably lead to legal proceedings in the High Court,” the DPP informed Justice Cummings-Edwards in the letter dated September 28, 2022.

Magistrate Daly adjourned the matter on Thursday and indicated that a decision on the request for her removal would be announced at the next hearing in October.

Bascom has been placed on $300,000 bail by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan when he appeared in her Georgetown Magistrate’s Court slapped with three cybercrime-related charges alleging that twice, between August 13 and August 19, he used a computer system to transmit electronic data with the intent to humiliate, harass, or cause distress to Superintendent Mitchell Caesar; and he did the same to Superintendent Chabinauth Singh on one occasion.

Sergeant Bascom was among several persons arrested by the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) on August 8, after a quantity of cocaine was discovered at a house on Norton Street, Georgetown.

While a charge for trafficking in narcotics was laid against some of the persons, none was laid against Sergeant Bascom. Seemingly angered by his arrest, Bascom subsequently made several Facebook live videos in which he made damning allegations of corruption against several senior Police detectives and prominent businessman Azruddin Mohamed.
Bascom has alleged that Police ranks have accepted bribes and are “covering up” the murder of Fagundes. Police are yet to charge the perpetrators. He later deleted the posts out of fear for his family members’ lives.

Acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken and Crime Chief Blanhum have already debunked Sergeant Bascom’s allegations, calling them “malicious and untrue”, and Government had solicited the assistance of the Regional Security System (RSS) to investigate the claims made by Sergeant Bascom.

The RSS, in pronouncing on the matter, made it clear that there was no evidence to substantiate Sergeant Bascom’s claims. The team also found that the two live recordings made by Bascom were in contravention of Section 19 (5) (a) of the Cyber Crime Act.

Businessman Mohamed, who, from the onset, had distanced himself from the allegations, has since filed a $200 million defamation lawsuit against Sergeant Bascom, in which he contended in his Statement of Claim that the words and statements uttered by Bascom are all untrue, false, dangerous, disingenuous, malicious, irrational, unfair, unsubstantiated, unfounded, and baseless, thereby tarnishing and lowering his reputation.

Superintendent Caesar, through his lawyer, had also threatened to take legal action against Sergeant Bascom if he did not remove the posts and offer him an apology and $50 million in compensation.