During an interview with a Grenadian media entity, attorney-at-law Dexter Todd expressed his belief that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, “hurriedly instituted” the 19 murder charges against his teen client based on an incomplete police file.
Todd is the lead attorney representing the 15-year-old girl who is accused of starting the fire which claimed the lives of 19 students and a 5-year-old boy. The tragedy occurred on May 21, at the female dormitory at the Mahdia Secondary School located in Region Eight.
Police allege that the child deliberately started the fire after her cell phone was confiscated by the dormitory’s supervisor and a teacher. The teenager made her first court appearance last Monday and was remanded to the Juvenile Holding Center located in Georgetown. She returns to court on July 4, 2023.
During his appearance on “The Narrative,” Todd explained that on the first hearing of the matter he asked the court for early disclosure of the statements. He said it was then the prosecutor indicated that “they are not at the stage of readiness to disclose the statements.”
“So once again we have a situation where charges has been instituted against a person (with an incomplete file). It happens a lot in Guyana, but this goes a lot deeper. We are dealing with a juvenile now and a tragedy which claimed the lives of 20 children, but the prosecutor stands in court to say they are not ready and that the file is still incomplete,” the lawyer said.
He highlighted that the situation where charges are being instituted when the police file is incomplete causes a delay in court while noting that Guyanese lawyers have been very vocal on the issue.
The lawyer added, “I am of the view that if you are going to institute charges, complete your investigation, and once you are very adamant that the person is ready for the charges…then be prepared to disclose your statements so that the matter can proceed.”
Moreover, Todd stated that with the file being incomplete, “then it’s most reasonable to infer that the Director of Public Prosecutions at the time of reviewing the file to advise would not have had a completed file and would not have had an opportunity to review all statements in the matter before making a determination.”
To this end, he stated that he believes the charges were hurriedly instituted.
He said too that he does not agree with the charge of murder being instituted against his client, adding, “I have very strong convictions that the Director of Public Prosecutions erred here.”