DPP Gaspard, in 2012, three months after Magistrate Marcia Murray discharged Panday, sought and was granted leave to have the magistrate’s decision reviewed by the courts. Justice James Aboud, in ruling on an application by Panday’s attorneys that the leave granted be set aside, held that the DPP will be unable to reopen the integrity trial. In his ruling, Justice Aboud said Panday’s rights would have been prejudiced and he would continue to face such prejudice and hardship if the DPP was to continue that prosecution of him.
He said the prosecution never indicated it had intended to challenge the ruling and only initiated the process three months later without any reasonable explanation for the delay. The judge said given the age of the matter, he believes Panday will face hardships and prejudice if Murray’s decision was quashed and the matter restarted before another magistrate.
“I must also bear in mind the legal expense he has had to endure in these proceedings and is still enduring,” Aboud ruled. However, Aboud pointed out the DPP had a right to obtain a comprehensive statement from the court that the magistrate misaligned.
Murray appealed the judge’s decision while the DPP filed a cross-appeal both of which came up for hearing yesterday before Justices of Appeal Allan Mendonca, Rajendra Narine and Maureen Rajnauth-Lee.
After giving him time to consult with his client, Gaspard’s attorney Ian Benjamin returned to inform the appellate judges that his client instructed that the judicial review application would be dismissed.
As a result, Murray’s attorneys Avory Sinanan SC and Larry Lalla agreed that the appeal will be withdrawn. Rikki Harnanan appeared for Panday. Murray in June 2012 ruled that it would be unconscionable to permit the case against Panday to continue, because she was not satisfied the issue was fully and fairly investigated by the Integrity Commission and DPP, before charges were laid.
Murray, in giving her reasons, held that “in cases of false declarations made under the act, the Integrity Commission plays a ‘pre-prosecution’ role in that only after it has conducted its due process can it refer persons to the Director of Public Prosecutions. For these purposes, the Integrity Commission is a critical part of the Executive which makes the decision to prosecute,” and must be tested.
Panday was alleged to have failed to declare the assets of the account, amounting to approximately $1.6 million, held at the National Westminster Bank at Wimbledon Hill Road, London, for the years ending 1997, 1998 and 1999. He was prime minister at the time. Panday was found guilty and sentenced in March 2006 by Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls to two years in prison.
Panday appealed Mc Nicolls’ decision and the conviction was eventually quashed by the Court of Appeal and a retrial ordered. The Court of Appeal’s decision was upheld by the Privy Council.
The decision was not appealed to the Court of Appeal during the prescribed deadline and the judicial review application was instead sought by the DPP.