A high-profile case from a little under two years ago is back in the courts. This morning Supreme Court Justice Shona Griffith began hearing the case of Alrick Smith Senior, a construction worker, and his family: wife Sandra Casey; son Leon Smith; daughter Tamica Smith and niece Ishaida Brooks. They were at home on July 7th, 2014, in mourning after the murder of youngest family member Myron Smith, whom they had just laid to rest. The family were observing a repast with friends when two young men, both minors at the time, ran into their house, with then-Corporal of Police Anibal Castellanos and partner Detective Constable Jaime Arzu, who were on mobile patrol, pursuing them. Corporal Castellanos recovered a 9mm pistol with 13 rounds of ammunition in the magazine from one of the bedrooms and arrested the entire family, despite their protestations that they had no knowledge of the weapon and that it was dropped by one of the fleeing youth, who told police that it was his. Within a week of charges of keeping firearm and ammunition without a gun license being instituted against the family, they were withdrawn in court on the order of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal. Today, all five family members gave testimony in court, seeking justice for their ordeal. Both now-Sergeant Castellanos and Detective Constable Arzu also testified. Afterward we spoke with the family’s attorney Anthony Sylvestre about what the family is seeking.
Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Alrick Smith and Family: In relation to the Tort of malicious prosecution what needs to be proved is that they were charged, that the charge was dismissed, that the police officers at the time, that there was no reasonable basis for the charge to have been brought and that of course ties along with the fact that there would have been malicious. If you don’t have any reasonable basis to charge somebody then it’s imputed that it is based on malice. So those are the basis on which we brought the claim to magistrate’s prosecution and also the claim for false imprisonment because they’re both tied together. The charges were maliciously brought and that led to the detention of the Smith family.
Crown Counsels representing the Government, Trienia Young and Leonia Duncan, sought to poke holes in the family’s testimony. It appears that at least two of the family do know the accused, and there were inconsistencies in where each family member said they were when the men ran in and when the police found the firearm. Corporal Castellanos testified that he specifically asked, first at the residence and later at the police station, whether any one of the family owned the firearm or a gun license. He got no response the first time, he said, but later the family denied that any of them owned the weapon or held a license. He also said that he invited any person who did not live at the residence to leave, in accordance with the amended Firearms Act which requires police to charge only those persons “ordinarily resident” – that is, living on a regular basis – at a residence where a firearm is discovered, as opposed to visitors and non-resident family members. Both Sylvestre and Alrick Smith say none of it is enough to matter. They have proven their case, and Smith hopes for justice.
Alrick Smith Sr., Suing for Malicious Prosecution: Mister Sylvestre gave a good talk for us and we just want justice. Just like you said it is a malicious thing that they did to us.
Alrick Smith Sr., Suing for Malicious Prosecution: No reason to bring those charges because we have a repast and police man told a lot of lies too and Mister Sylvestre defend us and we just listened to what he was saying and see what would be the outcome.
Aaron Humes, Reporter: Did anyone take responsibility for the firearm? Because there was a name called in court as to that.
Alrick Smith Sr., Suing for Malicious Prosecution: Yes the lee bwia O’Neal right in front of the police and yeah we just tek it to Mister Sylvestre to do the rest and hope, he talk very good fi we and I feel like something will come out of this.