St. John’s Antigua- Attorney Ralph Francis is of the view Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh had no jurisdiction to address the case involving a media personality accused of a sexual offence that allegedly occurred in District B earlier this month.
As such, the lawyer filed a habeas corpus application in the High Court in which he indicates his client has been unlawfully detained in prison.
The matter is set for hearing on Tuesday.
In the eyes of the attorney, the magistrate overstepped her authority when she issued an arrest warrant for the accused to appear before the St John’s Magistrates’ Court and further, when she revoked his station bail.
Francis’s application indicates the Chief Magistrate called upon his client to appear in the St John’s Court even though the case was already set to go before District B Senior Magistrate Asquith Riviere in the All Saints Court on July 3.
The lawyer said he had advised his client not to go before the chief, since she did not properly summon him and also because he was already granted $10,000 station bail with one surety and told to go before the District B Court in All Saints.
When the accused failed to show up, Francis said, the magistrate issued the arrest warrant for the 50-year-old accused and denied him bail during the proceedings.
She told the accused it is her policy not to grant bail to accused persons in sexual offences involving children.
Francis said the entire affair was wrong and he wants the High Court to overturn Magistrate Walsh’s decision to remand the accused.
The name of the accused has not been disclosed in accordance with the rules contained in the Sexual Offences Act which bars publication unless the individual has been convicted.
Meantime, while he has asked the High Court to review the entire matter, Francis said he plans to seek bail for his client this Tuesday.
The man is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl on June 12.
He was reportedly taking the child home from the football match at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds that evening.
The matter has been set for committal proceedings before Senior Magistrate Asquith Riviere on August 21. On that day, the accused would know whether the matter would proceed to the High Court for trial.