WINDSHIELD WIPER FREED
Alvin Campbell, o/c Rocky, who came to national attention as a windscreen wiper on the TVJ programme ‘Impact’ with Ms Emily Crooks, was freed on Tuesday of all charges in the Half-Way Tree Resident Magistrate’s Court before Her Honour Ms Maxine Ellis. On the court being told that there were no statements on the file, his attorney, Howard Hamilton, QC, told the court that he was not surprised at that disclosure because it had long been his client’s contention that there could never have been any allegation that he had obstructed any motorist as, on the occasion of his arrest, the police had simply come along and “scraped up” all persons like him, who had been wiping windscreens for a living.
The magistrate, while admitting that she herself was familiar with the practice, expressed the view that some alternative measures ought to be contemplated to enable these young men to be gainfully employed, but as there was no one present alleging that Mr Campbell had obstructed them, the case was dismissed for want of prosecution. Mr Hamilton advised the court that he had been in dialogue with the minister of national security, who has expressed the intention to examine proposals to address the situation.
I am, etc.,
HOWARD HAMILTON, QC
26 Duke Street
LETTER OF THE DAY
HAMILTON THE WINDSHIELD CLEANER AND THE MINISTER
The Gleaner of November 4 published a letter titled ‘Windshield wiper freed’. The author of the letter, Howard Hamilton, QC, is a well-known Jamaican lawyer and now it seems de facto protagonist for windshield cleaners. In the letter he boasts about his client being freed. While I have no knowledge of the guilt or innocence of this accused man, I have a serious problem with Hamilton’s assertions in paragraph two. As a former detective of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) I am incensed. Paragraph two reads: “On the court being told that there were no statements on the file, his attorney, Howard Hamilton, QC, told the court that he was not surprised at that disclosure because it had long been his client’s contention that there could never have been any allegation that he had obstructed any motorist as, on the occasion of his arrest, the police had simply come along and ‘scraped up’ all persons like him, who had been wiping windscreens for a living.” The law gives the police in Jamaica the authority to prosecute an offender who, within his view, obstructs traffic. No supporting statement is required to arrest, prosecute, or convict. That’s the law. If Howard Hamilton does not like the law, he can use his vast influence to lobby for change but he should not attempt to mislead the public into believing that this alleged offender was exonerated because no motorist was hindered, and subsequently no complainant statement was available. In cases of this nature prosecuted under the (Road Traffic Act) it is one’s word against the polices’. The last paragraph of Hamilton’s letter reads thus: “Mr Hamilton advised the court that he had been in dialogue with the minister of national security, who has expressed the intention to examine proposals to address the situation.” What is Hamilton doing talking to the minister of national security, a politician, and the overall boss of the police force about a matter in which he was involved, still before the courts and to which a resolution had not yet being reached? Hamilton a renowned lawyer with immense influence has no business having any conversation with the minister of national security about any matter in which he is involved and still before the courts. I would also like to ask the commissioner of police to seriously look at these policemen who arrest people and do not complete the process of case preparation that is necessary to gain a conviction. I am all too familiar with lazy cops who bring the JCF into ridicule and disrepute. Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, with much fanfare, took on this issue, a move I supported in this medium as necessary. He must be the boss who delegates and select one mid-level supervisor, preferably an inspector or sergeant, to vet the court files for correction and completion. This is what those ranks are supposed to do.
I am, etc.,
MIKE BECKLES MYOPIA
Mike Beckles’ letter in your November 5 edition typifies the skewed views persons will have of situations in Jamaica from their lofty towers in Poughkeepsie, New York, which, as every used car salesman in America knows, is itself a recognised retirement location for “little old ladies, whose motor cars have clocked very little mileage” For his information, there is no statute on the books in Jamaica which makes it an offence to wipe windscreen of motor cars on a public thoroughfare. It is a different matter if, in the act of wiping a windscreen, a motorist is obstructed thereby, and, as Mr Beckles has correctly stated, “the law gives the police in Jamaica the authority to prosecute an offender who, within his view, obstructs traffic”. It is in his next paragraph, however, that Mr Beckles, not surprisingly, veers off track. “No supporting statement is required to arrest, prosecute or convict,” he says.
Fourth court appearance
For Mr Beckles’ benefit, the occasion of Alvin Campbell’s acquittal was his fourth appearance in court and, as the clerk of court reported to the resident magistrate, that there were no statements on the file from day one, none from any motorist and none from the arresting officer himself – so there was no allegation that the arresting officer had witnessed any obstruction. On the other hand, it was Mr Campbell’s contention that he was arrested because he was a “known” windscreen cleaner, and not for cleaning any windscreen that day. As for my having dialogue with the minister of national security, that had nothing to do with Mr Campbell specifically but, rather, was to devise a more humane approach to redirect these young men who, in a desperate attempt to eke out a living on the harsh streets of Kingston, may be tempted, or driven, to a life of crime.
I am, etc.,
HOWARD HAMILTON, QC
26 Duke Street
I post these back and forth between the esteemed Queens council attorney Howard Hamilton and myself , which appeared November 2010 in the Jamaica Gleaner In an effrot to draw attention to the high levels of support and acquiescence that is available for those who clearly break our laws. Even though the perpetrators may think they have legitimate reasons , breaking the laws cannot be condoned or supported.
This follows the last blog about the ackee thief, my intention is to show that there is a built-in tacit support for criminality in Jamaica even from those whom are officers of the court. In some cases their intentions are good but the path they choose to implement those good intentions are treacherous and bad for our country.
The law cannot be circumvented , the goal posts cannot be moved, we cannot change the rules in the middle of the game, the firmness of the law is the most critical component that keeps those who desire a life of crime from over running the rest of us. The deterrent effect is what keeps some out of a life of crime. What the detractors do not understand is that once the teeth is removed it is both useless and pointless.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.