Way cleared so far for Jennifer Westford’s trial to begin in Magistrate’s Court; Defence Lawyer may move to High Court

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 January 2016, 15:12 by Denis Chabrol

Magistrate Fabayo Azore Tuesday overruled the defence submission on the grounds that the court has no jurisdiction to deal with executive abuse in the former Public Service Minister Jennifer Westford’s fraud case. 
She explained that the court only has jurisdiction to deal with abuse by the prosecution and delays in trials. 
Secondly, she said he statement made by Minister of State Joseph Harmon was ambiguous and the court is not sure whether that amounts to amnesty. 
The defence requested seven days to consider the merit of the ruling of the court and to decide whether they will file at the High Court. 
The prosecution, however, is ready to commence trial but not on today’s date. 
On the last occasion, the Prosecutor in the fraud case against former Minister of Public Service, Dr. Jennifer Westford and her then Chief Personnel Officer, Margaret Cummings said their lawyer’s arguments for the matter to be put down indefinitely are being made in the wrong court.
Responding to arguments by Defence Lawyer, Neil Boston, the Police Prosecutor Bharrat Mangru  said Minister of State, never issued an amnesty and so alleged executive abuse was a matter for the High Court.
Mangru said the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court in dealing with abuse of process was limited to delays and fairness of a trial.
Boston on November 12, 2015 already argued that the Minister of State’s public position that no one would have been charged once persons had returned the vehicles quietly at the Office of the President, now the Ministry of the Presidency. On that basis, he wants the Magistrate to stay the case indefinitely.
Westford remains on GUY$800,000 bail and Cummings is on GUY$1.2 million bail.
Westford, during her arraignment, had said she was innocent of the charges that state that between July 17, 2014 and June 23, 2015, she attempted to transfer eight State-owned vehicles to four persons, including her partner,  Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard Commander Gary Beaton, Osbert McPherson, Wayne Walker and Delroy Lewis. Cummings was charged with forgery of documents purporting to show that the eight vehicles had been purchased.
During the investigations and prior to the institution of charges, police had said that Westford had facilitated the return of the vehicles.
The Defence Lawyer said his application had nothing to do with prejudice but about Executive abuse by wrongfully misusing the process of the court