Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman on Wednesday urged the court to immediately stay the charges against Antigua’s director of public prosecutions (DPP), Anthony Armstrong, in the real estate fraud case, contending that the police’s own handwriting expert has vindicated his client.
Wildman said that the handwriting expert in a statement had fingered the complainant’s cousin, Shelley Peart-Campbell, who is Armstrong’s co-accused, as the person whose handwriting appears on the transfer documents for the three properties Armstrong is accused of selling.
“So that nuh destroy the case? What you talking about here? An innocent man. Trying to destroy the reputation of a well upstanding citizen and outstanding public servant,” Wildman said.
The accused lawyer is alleged to have sold three properties belonging to the complainant, while he was incarcerated overseas and without his permission, in 2004.
It is further alleged that the complainant had initially retained Armstrong to handle the purchase of the same three properties, two in St Andrew and one in St Ann.
During submissions before Parish Judge Venice Blackstock-Murray on Wednesday, Wildman contended that the police did not carry out a proper investigation and should be held accountable.
“This is a kangaroo case and a classic case of abuse of process,” he said. “The police handwriting witness says is not Mr Armstrong, is Shelley. This is really a wicked act against Mr Armstrong.”
While emphasising that the judge has the jurisdiction to stay the proceedings, Wildman said there was an abuse of process based on the principles of delay, prosecutorial misconduct, and lack of evidence in the case.
He pointed to the Privy Council case involving Winston Warren in which the court ruled that where criminal or civil proceedings are brought after six years after the alleged offence, the proceeding is an abuse of process and must be stayed.
“They thought six years was oppressive, but we talking about 18 years on the Crown’s case, which is double and triple oppression,” Wildman told the court.
He argued that based on the principles, Armstrong would have been denied an opportunity to call witnesses and bring documents, and essentially, would be at disadvantage.
Furthermore, he said, “The DPP (Jamaica’s Paula Llewellyn and her office) get the file and never rule. The DPP could not rule, and they did not, so that is part of the abuse of process, the prosecutorial misconduct residing in the police force and the witness that she had brought here.”
According to Wildman, his client had only assisted the complainant with the purchase of one of the properties and had nothing to do with the purchase of the other two properties.
Wildman said his client assisted the complainant out of the goodness of his heart and had not even collected gas money when it was offered.
“There is a saying, no good deed go unpunished, so you have to be careful how you help people ‘cause it will come around to soak you,” he said.
Wildman claims that the complainant went after his client as he was desperate to get money after being released from prison, and he realised that his client was in a good job in Antigua.
He said the complainant told his client that he was going to “ dutty up” his reputation in Jamaica if he did not give him money.
Wildman said his client ended up sending some funds to the client but stopped after a while.
The complainant, however, alleges that the money was sent as part of the money that Armstrong had promised to repay him for selling his properties.
Wildman will complete his submission on December 5.
Peart-Campbell also appeared in court on Wednesday; however, her matter was scheduled for December 14.