Parish Judge Venice Blackstock Murray on Tuesday morning refused an application to stay proceedings against Antigua’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong, who is charged with fraud.
The charges stem from the sale of three properties in St Andrew between 1999 and 2002 in which Armstrong had represented the complainant, who was the vendor.
Armstrong contends that the proceeds of the sale were paid over to the complainant’s father, who he had authorized to be his agent, while he was incarcerated in the USA.
Lead attorney-at-law, Hugh Wildman, had made submissions asking for charges against Armstrong to be thrown out and for the proceedings to be stayed on grounds that it was an abuse of process.
The lawyer argued that there was a long delay in his client being charged, lack of or nonexistent evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.
But the judge, in delivering the ruling in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court, said all the grounds proffered by the defence team had failed.
Wildman, in seeking to have the case terminated in the parish court, had also argued that his client was already vindicated by the General Legal Council (GLC).
The lawyer submitted that while the council’s disciplinary committee had found Armstrong guilty of professional misconduct for witnessing a document for a client who was not present, it had not found him guilty of any wrongdoing.
Wildman maintained that Armstrong acted on the instructions of the complainant and that he was not the one who sold the properties.
According to him, the properties were sold by the complainant’s cousin, Shelly Peart Campbell, who is charged along with Armstrong.
The judge, however, ruled that the court could not consider the GLC’s ruling as it is duty-bound to be independent and must not consider any external factors.
The judge concluded that there are issues that must be ventilated in a trial where the facts can be determined. (Jamaica Gleaner)