Social media commentator released on bail on charges of misusing Internet

Friday, July 12, 2019

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NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — Social media commentator Gorman Bannister will return to court on September 17, after he appeared before a magistrate on charges of using the Internet to disseminate false claims against a former government minister and his wife.

Prosecutors allege Bannister, 64, made false claims about former minister Tennyson Wells and his wife, Stephanie, in voice notes disseminated on Facebook and WhatsApp with the intent of exposing them to public hatred and ridicule.

He is also accused of making false notes in May 2, 2018 of falsely claiming that Wells had been engaged in the theft of a gas and storage terminal belonging to his late father, Everette Bannister.

Bannister is also accused of falsely claiming that Mrs Wells, an attorney, had been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for stealing bearer bonds.

In relation to the charge of misuse of communications, Bannister is accused of making numerous posts on social media to the annoyance of a private investigator.

The court heard that Bannister, between January and this month, allegedly posted video and photos of the investigator's home, suggested that he is a homosexual, paedophile and also suggested that he should commit suicide.

Bannister pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment before Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis, who had earlier set bail at US$1,500 on the misuse of communications charge.

However, the magistrate denied Bannister bail on the libel cases and remanded him to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.

High Court judge, Justice Gregory Hilton, later approved Bannister's release on US$8,000.

Bannister's appearance in court came less than 72 hours after unidentified persons firebombed a vehicle owned by Bannister's wife, Elizabeth, that was parked in front of their home.

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