SAN IGNACIO, Cayo District, Tues. July 4, 2017–Pastor Louis Wade is singing “hallelujah” today after Magistrate Hurl Hamilton cleared him of all the charges brought against him in relation to an incident involving a confrontation that took place between the pastor and Robert Montero, son of UDP Minister Rene Montero.
The young Montero told police that Wade had physically and verbally assaulted him in November 2016 at the Santa Elena Sports Complex. No charges were brought against Wade at the time because the officer that dealt with the matter did not believe Montero’s account of the incident.
However, one week before the matter was statute-barred, the authorities apparently instructed police to assign the case to another officer, who accepted Montero’s version of the incident.
When Wade appeared before Magistrate Hamilton for arraignment on the charges in May, he pleaded not guilty and told the media that it was Montero, who was the guilty party. Wade said that Montero had tried to run him over with his truck, in an attempt to prevent him (Wade) from capturing footage of Ministry of Work’s employees doing work that had been contracted to a private entity. However, Montero was never charged by police for this.
Wade’s attorney, Stacey Grinage, had argued in court that the significant delay in charging Wade had led to a “breach of process.” However, the civilian prosecutor, George Gomez, had argued that there was no significant delay, as the charges were made in the 6-month period allotted for summary offences.
After hearing both sides, the Magistrate accepted further written submissions from both parties and declined making judgment until today.
Grinage told us that the magistrate said he could not find any “complexity” within the charges and “any justification why the prosecution took five months to lay the charges.” And thus the magistrate agreed that there was indeed delay. On the second question of whether there would be prejudice to a fair trial, the magistrate answered in the affirmative as well, saying that “having regard to the delay, the accused would be prejudiced.”
Commenting on the actions of the police laying the charges so late, the magistrate said that “was an executive decision”, but it was “in bad faith,” Grinage said.
“The magistrate has permanently stayed the proceedings against Mr. Wade and the matter has been struck out from the court,” Grinage said. “The magistrate agreed with our submissions that laying the charges one week before the limitation period was excessive in the circumstances and that it was delay that would amount to a breach of process.”
Wade told the media that he felt satisfied with the ruling, but he won’t let the matter rest there. “We need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “If it could happen to me, a pastor in the country of Belize—everything I do from I am 16 (years old) is known to this country—what about the street boy?” he remarked.
According to Wade, he will consider taking legal action against the Government of Belize.