by Curlan Campbell
- Officers attached to South St George Police Station responded to a hit and run accident
- On arrival quickly realised that more was involved
- Officers took measurements of accident and then took witnesses statements of alleged assault and harm
Acting Police Commissioner, Edvin Martin, said officers dispatched to investigate the incident at Fort Jeudy, St George last Thursday, responded appropriately, after the completion of their preliminary investigation.
Martin took this stance during a press briefing in response to the public outcry over an altercation that resulted in Evan Smith, a Guyanese/Grenadian national, sustaining physical injuries allegedly at the hands of 2 individuals later identified as Donal Kavanagh and Sarah Hutton. Both Kavanagh and Hutton who were said to be of Irish descent, were formally charged by the police for causing harm and subsequently released on $10,000 bail with one surety. Reportedly, after Smith ran over a dog belonging to the accused, the incident quickly escalated into an altercation. Despite charges being laid against the 2 individuals in question, the initial action by police responding to the incident was brought under scrutiny as the public questioned the competence of the RGPF to investigate matters involving harm offences in a timely manner. The incident also raised concerns by the public over the inherent bias by law enforcement in the way they handled the investigation, after it was reported by the victim that the police told them that the matter should be pursued privately in order to seek legal recourse.
Before providing crucial new information regarding the events of Thursday, 25 June 2020, ACP Martin, stated that his responses will only be centred around the facts of the case and the appropriateness of the police responding to the incident. He could not disclose additional information in order to avoid pre-trail prejudices that can negatively impact the case now before the magistrate court. He explained that officers attached to South St George Police Station responded to what was believed to be a traffic-related matter involving a hit and run accident, but on arrival quickly realised that more was involved. Upon arrival the officers proceeded to carry out measurements of the accident and thereafter started taking statements from witnesses of the alleged assault and harm.
Martin said based on established protocols in handling cases of this nature, it is therefore highly unlikely that an officer of the RGPF would issue a medical form to a victim of harm — which he said is standard procedure before commencing an official investigation — and in the same breath would indicate to the said victim that they should seek legal recourse privately. “For over 100 years the police force has been responding to harm offences and when we respond we issue a medical form, and the matter is investigated, but …to tell you here is a medical form, go and take private action — it does not sound possible.”
Martin stated that upon being briefed on the matter, he was made aware that the victim may have expressed the intention to pursue civil action in the matter, and in response, the police may have informed the victim that they are within their rights to do so. However, Martin said although it remains unclear whether or not the officer’s statement was misconstrued by Smith, the fact remains that once a medical form is issued, it signifies that the police has commenced their investigation. “I don’t know if the police probably saying that is your right may be misconstrued as private action, but the issuance of the (medical) form is testimony that the police is investigating this as a criminal offence.”
An individual who wished to remain anonymous, told NOW Grenada that the police briefing left many unanswered questions since it is unclear as to whether the accused individuals were detained by police for questioning on suspicion, or were they allowed to go home only to be charged later for causing harm after the medical report was received by police. If that is the case, the individual said the police who responded to the scene showed a clear bias in favour of the foreign nationals, which is sometimes not offered to the average Grenadian.
Meanwhile, the police are also investigating reports that there were other key individuals of interest who may have been involved in the altercation.
Martin said once there is sufficient evidence to show that there were other individuals involved, then additional persons will be charged. “Initial statement from a witness of the incident first cited 2 [people] as being responsible for inflicting injuries. Prior to my arrival for this press brief now I have been told that that individual has since returned to the police with [the] added information of other [people]. We will review this, we will examine this, take the information that is taken and where there is evidence to substantiate the charging of additional [people] those actions will be taken.”
Superintendent Vannie Curwen, responded to questions regarding possible charges that can be laid against the accused with respect to Section 12 of the Dogs Registration and Control Act.
“We are reviewing the legislation as it relates to animals and them being leashed, and at some point, additional charges regarding that will be considered.” He said, “Traffic-related issues are still under investigation and a clear determination has not yet been made.”
The offence of harm carries a maximum penalty of $3,000 or one-year imprisonment or both. The accused individuals are expected to make their first court appearance on 28 July 2020.