Fraud-accused DPP Anthony Armstrong to return to court on January 5

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Antigua and Barbuda’s fraud-accused Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will return to court in Jamaica on January 5 where his attorney will again make submissions for the case to be thrown out.

This comes after a High Court judge in Kingston refused a stay of proceedings in the case against DPP Anthony Armstrong.

Armstrong appeared before Judge Venice Blackstock Murray on Tuesday morning where the judge handed down her decision against Armstrong, who is facing charges stemming from the apparent sale of three properties in St Andrew, Jamaica, between 1999 and 2002 without the owner’s consent.

According to reports, Armstrong assisted with the sale of properties on behalf of the complainant, Michael Adams, who was his client at the time.

However, Adams was later incarcerated in the United States.

Armstrong’s attorney maintains that when the three properties were sold, the proceeds were paid to Adams’ father who was authorised to act as the agent while Adams was in jail.

Lawyer Hugh Wildman, representing Armstrong, made submissions to the court asking for the charges to be thrown out, citing abuse of process and lack of evidence.

He also claims Armstrong did not know Adams was in prison when the sales went through and was merely helping out Adams’ relatives by carrying out the legalities on a pro bono basis.

However, the judge said all the grounds proffered by the defence team had failed.

Wildman also argued that his client had already been vindicated on the same charges earlier this year by Jamaica’s General Legal Council (GLC), which has disciplinary responsibility for practising attorneys.

The judge, however, ruled that the court could not consider any ruling by the GLC as the court is dutybound 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.

“The judge did not grant the application for the stay because a stay is an exceptional situation.

The judge is now prepared to entertain the submission for the case to be dismissed.

“We were trying to get it done for Friday but we got an early date of January 5th.

This is probably going to be the final submission,” Wildman told Observer. Wildman said, while the matter has been prolonged, hearing submissions on why the case should be thrown out may further vindicate Armstrong.

“We have no problems with that because it means that, at the end of the day, it cannot be said the case was stayed.

We want to say that the case was dismissed,” Wildman added.

The judge also returned Armstrong’s passport and travel documents – which is a “a good sign”, Wildman said.

All this comes as Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne confirmed that Armstrong will not be returning as DPP.

Browne said Armstrong has agreed to retire from the position he has held since 2005.

“My government could not allow Armstrong to continue to serve in this position given the accusation against him,” Browne said.

The Cabinet previously said the Judicial and Legal Services Commission based in St Lucia would determine the actions which are to follow Armstrong’s arrest and
charges.

The Commission is the institution under the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution Order – Section 87 — which is tasked with exercising disciplinary control over legal officers within its jurisdiction.

Shannon Jones-Gittens – a senior crown counsel for more than 12 years – was appointed Acting DPP in early November.

SOURCE: Observer

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