Westford Saga: Prosecutor wants matter to be transferred to High Court

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Former Minister Jennifer Westford (center) accompanied by Keisha Chase and Margaret Cummings [iNews Photo]
Former Minister Jennifer Westford (center) accompanied by Keisha Chase and Margaret Cummings [iNews Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Police Prosecutor, Bharrat Mangru has made an application before Magistrate Fabayo Azore for the matter against former Public Service Minister, Jennifer Westford and Chief Personnel Officer, Margaret Cummings to be transferred to the High Court.

The Prosecutor made the application on Monday, November 30 on the grounds that the Magistrates Courts’ jurisdiction is limited to delays and fairness of trial as it relates to executive abuse, which is the complaint of the Defence Attorney.

During a previous Court appearance, Attorney-at-law, Neil Boston had argued that the institution of criminal charges against the Former Minister had breached the amnesty that was reportedly granted to them by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon during a press conference on June 19.

Boston had related on November 12 that Harmon, during the press conference, stated that if the vehicles were returned, Westford and Cummings would be granted amnesty.

Harmon is quoted as saying, “They can quietly bring those (state assets) back to the Ministry, in which they came from or to the Office of the President (OP). They can park them outside the gate…”

As such, the Attorney stated that seeing that his clients have complied with this request, the charges should be dismissed. He also contended that there was enough evidence for the matter to be stayed indefinitely, meaning that the two accused could not be charged for the offence again in the future.

In response to these allegations, Mangru today stated that “No amnesty was granted by Minister Harmon for the return of State vehicles. While the Magistrates’ Court has jurisdiction to deal with abuse of process, that jurisdiction is limited to delays and fairness of trial as it relates to executive abuse, which is the complaint of the Defence Attorney. Abuse of that nature based on the English Authority can only be dealt with by the High Court. Hence, This Court has no jurisdiction to deal with that kind of abuse.”

As such, he requested that the matter be transferred to the High Court. The Magistrate has adjourned the matter to January 19, 2016 for ruling on the submissions.

On July 29, the former Government Minister appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court slapped with four charges of attempted larceny. Westford entered a plea of not guilty when the charges were read to her by Acting Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.

The charges allege that between July 17, 2014 and June 23, 2015 Westford attempted to transfer the vehicles to four persons namely; her husband Gary Beaton, Osbert McPherson, Wayne Walker and Delroy Lewis.

Her assistant, Margaret Cummings was also charged for the attempted transfer of the state vehicles. Cummings pleaded not guilty to the charges which alleged that she forged certain documents for the purchase of the eight motor vehicles.

She was released on $300,000 bail for each of the four charges.

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