‘Shaffeek Bacchus PI
- Ashton King freed
Sean Hinds to know fate today
Kaieteur News
July 23, 2004

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Surrounded by family members, a group of rejoicing friends and curious onlookers, Proprietor of A&D Funeral Home, Ashton King, walked out of the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court a free man, yesterday.

“There is no evidence against Ashton King, the number three accused, and so I now dismiss this charge,” Magistrate Adrian Thompson told the court.

Immediately after the Magistrate announced his decision, King, who said, “thank God,” left the dock, embraced his family members, and walked out of the court compound.

King was one of three persons fingered in the death of Shaffeek Bacchus who was gunned down on January 5, 2004, outside his home at Princes Street, Lodge.

Following his death, his brother, George Bacchus (who is now deceased) reportedly fingered the Manager of Auby’s Wine Bar, Mark Thomas, known as ‘Kerzorkee’; proprietor of A&D Funeral Home, Ashton King; and former police officer, Sean Hinds, as the persons who shot his brother.

Yesterday, Magistrate Thompson’s decision came after Attorney-at-Law, Vic Puran, made a no case submission.

In his submission, Puran said, “There is no case against my client and not even one witness said anything to incriminate him. The only person who gave evidence and mentioned my client’s name was Sergeant Frazer who said that he questioned him. Mr. Frazer himself told the court that after he told Mr. King about the allegation, he (King) denied being involved. The prosecution’s case is that my client denied the entire allegation that was put to him. That is all they have been working with throughout this case.”

Meanwhile, Sean Hinds, the other man held for the murder of Shaffeek Bacchus, will know his fate today.

Yesterday, when the matter was called up before Magistrate Thompson, Mr. Campton Richardson, Hinds’ lawyer, also made a no case submission.

In his submission, he said, “It is my respectful submission that this court ensures that the accused Sean Hinds is not made to stand trial for any offence, unless the prosecution has made out a prima facie (already established or firm case) case against him. However, I respectfully submit that in this case, there is no prima facie case made out against my client. I say this since the evidence in relation to the identification of my client is of very poor quality and there is no other evidence led by the prosecution to support the correctness of the ID made by the prosecution’s lone eyewitness, Aubrey Price.”

“This case is a case where the witness, Price, had only a fleeting glance of the person he said he saw sitting in the rear right side of the car on the night of the incident. He said that he looked in the car for two seconds. That is a flash. However, later he said that he turned around and saw a person pulling in his head and shoulder. He also said that he saw the face of the person sitting in the rear right side of the car for three seconds.

These are all instances of a fleeting glance. In evidence, the prosecution attempted to show that Price knew the accused (Hinds) before the night of the incident. However, that in itself is poor evidence. The evidence led is that he (Price) had seen the accused for six months when he visited his girlfriend in the Princes Street area. However, there was no evidence about what distance he observed the person and for how long he saw the man each day. We do not know,” Richardson told the court.

Richardson told Magistrate Thompson that there was no evidence as to what position Price was in when he saw the accused each day as he had claimed.

“There is no evidence produced by the prosecution to established how Price came to attach the name ‘Sean’ to the person he said he saw in the car on the night of the incident. Where did he get that name? The evidence in this court led by Sergeant Frazer is that the police would hold an ID parade if a witness doesn’t know the suspect. If a witness knew a suspect, the police would have a confrontation among the parties. In this case, out of Aubrey Price’s own mouth on Monday last, he said that the police asked him to attend an ID parade but he refused to go. That shows that the police was not satisfied that Price knew the suspect as he had claimed. The prosecution’s case leaves in doubt the issue of whether or not Price knew the person he saw in the car that night. The evidence produced by the prosecution is woefully inadequate and is of poor quality,” Richardson said.

He added, “There is evidence that there was light on the northern side of the road. The prosecution led no evidence to show that the lights reflected across the road. There is also no evidence to show that the lights reflected into the car to enable Price to see the persons in the car. Additionally, there is no evidence to say that the lights reflected on the person or persons’ faces in the car.

“To add to that, the witness said that he looked at the car for two seconds and he turned around to walk away. He noted that he turned back after he heard sounds like squibs behind him and saw a man pulling his head, shoulder and sub-machine gun into the car. The evidence is that when he saw the man pulling in the car, he (Price) was six feet away from the car. Apart from that, the person in the rear right of the car would have been facing the southern side backing the lights that were on the northern side. The witness also admitted that the car was in the area of some shaded trees. This claimed recognition of a person under those circumstances was of a poor quality and insignificant to form any basis.

“Apart from all of this, Price himself admitted that he was smoking a ‘joint’ and was looking from right to left to see if any police was coming. The case against my client is based entirely on the evidence that Price gave. And the validity of his testimony is questionable.

Price told this court that no two persons could resemble each other except if they are twins and that he cannot mistake any person for another. It shows that he believes that whatever he claimed to see is that. That in itself shows that he is not a fundamental witness. Apart from all the lapses in the prosecution’s case, the weakest part was that the witness only identified the suspect in the court.

“Seven months after the incident, the witness finally identified the man in the court, in spite of the fact that the police requested an ID parade. The other factor that shows that Price is not a creditable witness is the fact that he said that since he went out on the road at about 06:30 hrs, he did not see anyone with Bacchus.

“However, Bacchus’s wife in her evidence said that she was with her husband, then left and went inside to make coffee. If he was there in truth, he would have seen her. Since he didn’t see her, therefore, he was not there. On the contrary, Jean Bacchus in her evidence said that it was only herself and her husband who were on the road under the trees. Having said all of this, sir, I rest my case,” Richardson told Magistrate Thompson.

The Magistrate then adjourned the matter for today so that he can review the evidence in order to make a decision.

Meanwhile, speaking with Kaieteur News after being freed, Ashton King said, “I am gonna relax now and give my business some attention. I have to also concentrate on my wife’s case. However, I know that she is not guilty of the offence she is charged with. But all in all, I am happy to be home.”

Also speaking with this newspaper was King’s Attorney, Vic Puran.

He said, “Since the case re-commenced before Magistrate Adrian Thompson, I had specifically asked whether there was a case against my client and the prosecution declined to comment. The Magistrate at that stage said that they couldn’t enquire whether there was a case or not. But it turns out that not a word was said against my client and I am happy that it has come to an end.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions was forced to restart the case after Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen withdrew from the inquiry.

Magistrate Holder-Allen withdrew from the case after self-confessed ‘death squad’ informant, George Bacchus, disclosed that she was at one time targeted for death.