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Police attackers brought to court

The suspects arrested in connection with the assault on the police officers in Mirabeau, (L-R) Kanisha Alexander, Javon Alexander (red plaid shirt), Simmons Horsford (in light blue), Keldon Murray (brown Plaid shirt) and Rockim Alexander (in navy blue shirt)

Four (4) St. Andrew residents were remanded to the Richmond Hill Prison on Thursday when they appeared before Magistrate Nevlyn John at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court charged in connection with last weekend’s attack on police officers in Mirabeau in St Andrew North-west.

According to the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), the lawmen were attacked Saturday night while responding to a complaint of loud music at a private birthday party that was being held without authorisation in the small community village.

The suspects are – Javon Alexander, 25 years, Farmer, Rockim Thomas, 25 years, Machine Operator, Keldon Murray, 23 years, Butcher, all of Mirabeau, and Simmons Horsford, 31 years, Farmer of Mt. Horne, St. Andrew.

They appeared before the court unrepresented, on three (3) counts each of Damage to Property, Causing Public Terror, and Causing Harm after they were arrested and charged by officers attached to the Grenville Police Station on Tuesday for the incident, which resulted in the vandalising of two private (2) vehicles and one (1) Police vehicle, causing damages of $15, 000.00, and minor injuries to a Police Officer.

The four men entered not guilty pleas when the summary charges were read out to them by the female Magistrate on the occasion of their first court appearances.

Head of the Community Relations Department of RGPF, Superintendent of Police Vannie Curwen told reporters Monday that on arrival at the scene where the birthday party was being held, “police were met with about 50 persons who began throwing stones and bottles at them…and the police unfortunately had to resort to discharging their firearm to (stabilize) the situation.”

Corporal of Police Joseph Andall, who is leading the case for the State Prosecution team, objected to bail being granted at this point and used the opportunity to remind the court of the long list of prior convictions of the suspects.

According to Cpl. Andall, Simmons Horsford has 15 prior convictions before the Grenville Magistrate’s Court for crimes of a similar nature dating back to 2008, his latest being a conviction for threatening language in 2019, while Keldon Murray has four (4) prior convictions for crimes of a similar nature, two (2) for which he was placed on a bond, and (2) for which he was reprimanded and discharged in 2014, 2016 and 2020, respectively.

Additionally, Javon Alexander has only one prior conviction for a Wounding offense, which dates back to 2015, and was given six (6) months to pay compensation, while Rockim Thomas has two (2) prior convictions for drug-related offenses.

Pointing to the public’s interest in how this particular matter will unfold in the court, as displayed by the many who flocked outside the courthouse, Cpl. Andall hinted at the lack of respect shown to the police by members of the community, whom they have a responsibility to keep safe.

Reiterating the primary objective of police officers, which is to ensure that persons keep the peace and obey the laws of the land in order to keep communities safe, the Police Prosecutor said “this is a very serious matter, and the public is definitely looking at the court as to the way forward”.

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“These offenses must be highlighted by the court, and I ask that these defendants be remanded to prison,” Cpl Andall told the sitting Magistrate.

Magistrate John conceded to the Prosecutor’s application, and remanded the suspects to the Richmond Hill Prison until July 12, noting that “the fundamental goal is to preserve public order in a fragile (COVID-19) environment.”

“I am familiar with the defendants, they are not new to the court,” she said, expressing concern with the current “state of mind of the suspects and what would happen if they were released.”

In making her decision, the female Magistrate explained to the defendants that although, the offenses are bailable, and bail is guaranteed by the Grenada Constitution, based on certain circumstances, the court has the authority to restrict rights to liberty based on the seriousness of the offenses.

Jointly charged along with the four (4) men is 25-year-old Kanisha Alexander of Mt. Horne. St. Andrew, who displayed unruly behaviour as she was escorted to court by the police.

The female suspect is currently on a bond, and has retained the services of former Magistrate, Henry Paryag to assist her.

However, the matter was stood down until later in the day, as counsel was unavoidably absent when the matter was first called.

Speaking with reporters following Thursday’s hearing, Corporal of Police attached to CRD, Kaudina Douglas-Mclean, confirmed that police investigations are ongoing into the incident, and additional charges are expected to be preferred against the five (5) suspects.

Charges of Hosting an Event without Written Permission from the Commissioner of Police and playing amplified music without permission were laid on two (2) Mirabeau residents, 28-year-old Trent Alexander, unemployed, and 20-year-old helper, Dante Matthew, who were granted bail prior to also making their first court appearance at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

The female CRD officer also confirmed that her injured colleague whose identity was withheld “is presently on medical leave” due to the injuries sustained during last Saturday’s attack on the lawmen.

She expressed concern over the unfortunate incident, which she said defeats the purpose of efforts being made by RGPF to build community-based relationships.

“…This incident makes us feel very uncomfortable because we are trying to build up that bond, and have that confidence between both spectrums, and to have that kind of unfortunate incident happening it kind of defeats the purpose of what we are working towards in a sense in terms of having safer communities (and) confidence in the police,” she said.

“We wouldn’t be deterred but it kind of defeats the purpose in terms of what we are working towards,” she added.

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