Cop charged with desertion
from the Bermuda Sun - (click
By Coggie Gibbons
(News from 2004-07-07 Edition)
Using a law that both the bench and defence counsel dubbed ‘archaic’, the Crown
on Monday charged a serving member of the Bermuda Police with desertion. The St.
Lucia national had been serving with the local police for about a year at the
time of his arrest on Saturday. Executives of the Bermuda Police Association
were in court for the proceedings, as were the case officers.
Crown Counsel Shakira Dill, appearing before Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner,
brought the charge against Rickie Marcus Joseph, 31, of Police Headquarters
(barracks) of deserting the Bermuda Police Service, of which he is a member, on
July 3. The charge is summary only and carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in
jail on conviction. Police Constable Joseph pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Ms Dill told the court that officers arrested Cons. Joseph at the Bermuda
International Airport in possession of “all of his belongings”. She said Pc.
Joseph was in breach of his five-year contract with the service and had not
indicated a desire to resign.
Interjecting from the bench, Mr Warner asked, “That’s the evidence of
desertion?” “Yes, sir,” replied Ms Dill. She went on to assert that Constable
Joseph has no real ties to the island, to which Mr Warner retorted, “How can you
bring someone to the island and say he has no ties to the island?”
The magistrate continued: “The history of desertion goes back to the Napoleonic
Wars. Soldiers wanted to avoid the trenches. This is a modern police service.”
Desertion was an offence, he suggested, “when police forces were paramilitary.
This police service is no longer paramilitary as police forces used to be.”
As an alternative to remanding Pc. Joseph in custody, Ms Dill asked for
substantial bail, the surrender of the officer’s travel documents and a
requirement he report to a police station.
For his part, Mr Duncan, for Pc. Joseph, said, “I am somewhat astounded when
considering the calendar of offences.” The defendant, he said, “is a serving
police officer and this is an arcane offence in which the Crown is objecting to
bail. There have been far more serious cases in which there has been no
objection to bail.”
The barrister asked the court to grant bail to his client, saying there were two
people prepared to stand as sureties – a Mr and Mrs Jimmy Denweddie of the New
Creation Worship Centre. Mr Duncan described the charge as having “a quasi-civil
characteristic” and asked for minimal bail to be imposed. Mr Warner agreed. “The
relationship is contractual,” he said, “and that makes this offence archaic, but
it’s still the law.”
The magistrate granted bail with one surety in the sum of $1,000, ordered the
surrender of Pc. Joseph’s travel documents and told him to report daily to
Hamilton Police Station between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM until his trial on Friday
Afterwards, Pc. Carl Neblett of the police association told the Bermuda Sun,
“We’re just looking out for the welfare of this officer. We’re not involved in