Almost 3 years ago, suspended prison officer Louie Cupid was arrested on corruption and conspiracy charges in relation to accused murderer Veron Primus’ first prison escape on or about October 1, 2019.
When Cupid’s docket was called on Wednesday July 14 at Kingstown’s Serious Offences Court it was to hear that the prosecution’s case had somewhat stalled with at least two more Crown witnesses still to be called.
Defense attorney Grant Connel’s “application for disclosure of the [prison’s] diaries” is the current fly in the ointment.
These sets of dormitory books as they are officially known, Connel argued, are a central part of his client’s defense if only because prison officers are expected to routinely fill in the details of their shifts.
Connel told the Serious Offences Court on Wednesday, “three weeks ago I made an application for disclosure of the diaries and I still have not received them.
“They may have information that is crucial to the defendant’s case because these are the diaries of the dorms – the dorms where he was assigned.
“The contents of the diaries would show this Court and the defense exactly who has what, why, how and where etc….
“I see the investigator is present, I don’t know if the prosecution would want some more time because I know they exist – I have no problem if they have not been written in for a while because I’m privy to certain things that they may not be but I just want it as evidence before the Court because I cannot proceed without it.”
IWNSVG.Com reported last January, “while Primus pleaded guilty to and was jailed for a charge that he escaped the prison between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2019, the date on the prison’s surveillance footage of the escape is the year 2000.”
Such noteworthy discrepancies on the timestamp from the digitally recorded video footage at Her Majesty’s Prisons which captured Primus’ leisurely stroll out of the supposedly secured rehabilitation compound underscores the urgency behind Connel’s unyielding request.
While the Court awaits the ordered disclosure, the lead investigator in the run up to the trial, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Elgin Richards’ testimony is on hold.
Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche pointed out that he has conversed with ASP Richards about the existence and possible whereabouts of the dairies but “they seem not to be in anybody’s possession.”
These sets of records were called into question when Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Ralph Gonsalves reported on his visit to the Kingstown based penitentiary following Primus’ second escape which occurred in December last year.
The News Newspaper chronicled, in part, PM Gonsalves’ phone call to WE FM’s Issues At Hand. He said, “the dormitory book, when I asked for it – the equivalent of a class register – the Superintendent of Prisons told me in front of the other prison officers and the Commissioner of Police that it wasn’t kept.
“So I asked how long it wasn’t kept for? He paused and said ‘about three years.’ I said ‘Commissioner I get the feeling is probably longer it wasn’t kept’.”
That same article also reported inactive prison officer, Kenson King, saying that those records formed part of his responsibility up to the point of his suspension which occurred less than 3 months before Primus’ 2020 jailbreak.
King was adamant – “I was head of the team responsible for the running of the dormitory up until July 28 when I was placed on suspension. And under my leadership there I made sure the dormitory was equipped with all that was needed.”
According to King this included the diaries which were used to record everything from the date a prisoner’s confinement starts to when it ends, dormitory patrols, recreation time etc.
In the interest of justice and with an eye on his fast approaching retirement from the prosecutions service, Delpesche suggested that Connel recall the former Superintendent of Prisons, Brenton Charles.
“Your Honor I understand my friend’s position, my time is at stake here – my time is burning. What I would suggest: if my friend would make an application to recall the former Superintendent and have him account for the diaries then we can move forward … I am for justice.” Delpesche told the Court.
The Chief Magistrate presented the defense with a second option by way of ASP Richards’ cross-examination but after some debate Connel reiterated “he won’t be able to answer certain questions.”
Ultimately Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne agreed to interrupt Charles’ pre-retirement leave and ordered his reappearance in the matter on Tuesday July 20. If his testimony fails to satisfy the defense though, Connel warned, “we may have to summon individuals who may have seen the diaries and that is public knowledge.”
Following the resolution of this anomaly, the prosecution is expected to rest its case once their remaining two witnesses take the stand.