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Hugh Wildman, a type of legal gladiator

Wildman, a type of legal gladiator, was born for the job as Trustee in Bankruptcy and Liquidator of Cash Plus

Sunday, February 07, 2010    

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He left law school in 1988 and went to work as clerk of the court at the famous Sutton Street Court in downtown Kingston. With only six months under his belt, he was promoted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as a crown counsel. He was a young but ferocious prosecutor, handling big cases such as the first contract murder under the new Offences Against the Person Act which distinguished between capital and noncapital murder.

Wildman successfully prosecuted the celebrated Linton Berry retrial in which the district constable was convicted of murdering his former lover, Paulette Zaidie. Two men are now serving prison time after Wildman marshalled circumstantial evidence that they caused the death of the wife of famed cricketer Jeffrey Dujon, when her car went over a precipice, following a robbery attempt in the early 1990s.

His meteoric rise continuing, Wildman was invited to Grenada to become DPP in 1995. In that tiny eastern Caribbean island, the Jamaican attorney would have the fight of his life. Local lawyers opposed his appointment as DPP there, with some bemoaning his “confrontational style.”

“I was very successful against them. They were losing all their cases to me and that meant earnings as well,” Wildman shot back.

But after only a year, he returned to Jamaica and was appointed Deputy DPP to Glen Andrade. Wildman had hardly filed away his appointment papers when the prime minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell, goaded by the police commissioner — and the rising crime rate — urged him to return to the spice isle.

Said he: “I agreed to go on condition that they arranged a secondment with the then P J Patterson Government, and it was done.”

He went as legal advisor to the Grenadian police force but, six months later, was again appointed DPP, in the wake of his solving a spectacular murder case that involved the island's top criminal and which was outstanding for six years, thus bringing an end to his long reign of terror.

Two months into the job, he was made senior legal counsel and special prosecutor, handling both civil and criminal matters for the Government, serving on several state boards as advisor. During that stint, he established the first Financial Intelligence Unit and helped to formulate the island's money-laundering guidelines.

Then the fairy tale ended.

The local private bar had never embraced Wildman, with some lawyers advising him to 'go back to Jamaica'. When the Government proposed to appoint him attorney general, in 2005, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. They fought it tooth and nail, until the Public Service Commission relented.

But in a sleight of hand, the Mitchell Government appointed Wildman legal advisor to the Cabinet. The job description read attorney general, without the title. He also acted as solicitor general.

Believing he had had enough of Grenada, Wildman returned home in 2008 and lectured briefly at the newly established law faculty at the University of Technology, before getting the Cash Plus call.

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