The controversial law, which was passed during the term of the People’s Partnership government under attorney general Garvin Nicholas, expired on August 15 and the present administration did not get the support of the Opposition to extend the law, as well as the Anti-Gang Act, for a further two years. The Law Association also objected to any extension, saying the Acts should be repealed and did nothing to curb the crime situation.
Speaking from Dominica where he is on special assignment Keith Scotland, attorney for Danielle St Omer, said it was a landmark ruling as the law had been passed with the requisite majority yet still struck down by the court.
Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan SC, who represented PC Justin Charles said the ruling means the failed attempt to renew the legislation was a blessing in disguise as Parliament would have been re-enacting an unconstitutional law.
Damages for both Charles and St Omer will be assessed by a Master of the Court.
St Omer was also represented by attorneys Raphael Morgan and Asha Watkins-Montserrin while Ramlogan, Gerald Ramdeen, Jayanti Lutchmedial and Kent Samlal appeared for Charles.
Both claims were defended by Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein and Roshan Ramcharitar for the State.
In her ruling, Justice Gobin pointed out that Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams in defence of the law, failed to provide data on how the curtailment of bail had impacted on crime.
While she noted a commitment on the part of the legislature to deal with the problem, and the fact that the amendments were supported overwhelmingly, it did not compel the court to yield to the will of the Parliament.
“Crime remains the number one concern of our citizens,” she said, adding, “We are besieged by daily reports of senseless and vicious bloody murders most of which involve the use of guns of all levels of sophistication, gruesome discovering of bullet riddled bodies, reports of armed robberies and terrifying home invasions.
“Our innocents are maimed or lose their lives as what has been termed ‘collateral damage’. We now have a phenomenon of citizens who simply disappear, they leave their homes never to return or to be seen or heard of again. “No one is immune to the effects of crime and there is a growing sense of insecurity spawned by the recognition as it continues to strike closer to home, that anyone is fair game,” she said.