Bermuda Sun



Cop charged with desertion from the Bermuda Sun - (click here)

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 afternoon.
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 the case.”




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