General — 07 March 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Bail of accused murderer, Oriel Leslie, revoked for violation of curfew condition

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Mar. 2, 2018– On Thursday, Oriel Leslie and Tyrone Meighan, two of three men accused of murder, were released on Supreme Court bail when they and their attorneys, Dickie Bradley for Meighan and Ellis Arnold, SC, for Leslie, appeared before Justice Dennis Hanomansingh, who released each of them on a $25,000 bail that was granted with certain conditions, but in less than 24 hours after Leslie regained his freedom, a police officer found him in a nightclub beyond the cutoff time by which he should have been at his home, as was required by one of his bail conditions.

Leslie, 29, was re-arrested in the early hours of this morning and later, he and his attorney appeared before Justice Hanomansingh, but they failed to convince the judge not to revoke his bail and return him to the Kolbe-managed Belize Central Prison, where he had filed a lawsuit against the prison administration for their alleged violation of his rights because of the amount of time he had spent in solitary confinement in the prison’s so-called “hole.”

Leslie’s mother, who signed his bail yesterday, was also ordered to appear before Justice Hanomansingh on Friday, when she will explain why she must not pay the court the $25,000 she pledged as bail when she signed for his release into her custody. Justice Hanomansingh had stipulated in the bail condition that the two, Leslie and Meighan, attend all adjournments of their cases, beginning on March 5, until the matter is concluded.

In addition, the men were ordered not to interfere with any prosecution witness and to surrender all travel documents to the court. Leslie was ordered to be in his house by 9:30 p.m. and he is not to be on the street before 6:00 a.m.

Leslie, after being behind bars since March 2017, when the Court of Appeal quashed the men’s October 2015 acquittal of murder and ordered a new trial, apparently could not resist the lure of “Thirsty Thursday,” and was spotted by Constable Andre Almendarez at Sit and Sip Bar around 1:30 a.m. today, Friday.

PC Almendarez, who was familiar with the fact that Leslie should not have been out of his house at that hour of the morning, alerted a fellow officer with whom he was traveling in a police vehicle, and they nabbed Leslie after he got into a vehicle and attempted to slip away.

On the witness stand, Leslie attempted to convince the court that the police went for him at his house, but Justice Hanomansingh did not believe his narrative and revoked his bail.

Oriel Leslie, Tyrone Meighan, 24, and Brandon Baptist, 29, were charged with the November 2012 murder of an ex-Belize Defence Force soldier, James Norales. Norales’ murder was believed to be a gang hit. He was murdered execution-style with multiple gunshots to his body and then dumped out of a car at the junction of the then Western Highway, (now the George Price Highway) and Fabers Road.

The Crown’s evidence at the murder trial before Justice John “Troadio” Gonzalez was mostly circumstantial, and when the Court of Appeal heard the Crown’s argument against the acquittal, the appeal was allowed because the trial judge did not give a written reason for his decision to acquit the men based on their attorneys’ no-case submission.

After the Court of Appeal had ordered a retrial of their case, Leslie, Meighan and Baptist filed an appeal for leave to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), but in a ruling on July 17, 2017, the CCJ dismissed the appeal and ordered that they be “retried as soon as practicable.”

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