Speaker relieved after court throws out illegal dumping charge
Dalrymple-Philibert was charged with illegal dumping.

House Speaker Marissa Dalrymple-Philibert and her two co-accused are said to be relieved after hearing a judge's ruling that freed them of a charge of illegal dumping, brought under the National Solid Waste Management Act.

In handing down the ruling Monday afternoon in the St Ann Parish Court, Parish Judge Larona Montague-Williams upheld a no-case submission made by defence lawyer Peter Champagnie.

The judge said she could not find the trio guilty because they did not leave the garbage at the site along Salem main road in Runway Bay, St Ann, shortly before noon on August 15 last year.

Section 46 (1) of the Act, which the three were accused of breaching, reads: “A person commits an offence if he throws, drops or otherwise deposits and leaves any litter in any public place.”

The prosecution's two police witnesses admitted that the defendants complied when they instructed them to pick up the garbage they had just unloaded from a motor truck.

In handing down the ruling the judge said the defendants were “fortunate” that the cops told them to remove the garbage and that they did not disobey the order.

“Your action on the day prevented the commission of an offence,” the judge told Constable Howard Phillips of the Runaway Bay police. The other prosecution witness was District Constable Dwayne Ormsby.

The prosecution, in the meantime, seemed discombobulated during the court session as it groped about for supporting arguments despite being repeatedly guided that the gravamen of the case was whether the garbage was left at the site. It went as far as to call Constable Phillips to take the witness stand but ended up mainly posing questions already answered in statements that were admitted into evidence by oral agreement.

The prosecution eventually closed, but not before it crumbled in open court.

The matter was one of “public service announcement” value, the judge said, eliciting laughter from some court insiders.

She explained that the case, being widely publicised in the press, would have alerted the public partly about the vigilance of the St Ann police and their abhorrence to what they consider to be illegal dumping.

At the end of the case Champagnie noted that it was still not brought out in court whether dumping is prohibited at the site in question.

“That has not really been settled, and certainly from what we heard in court there was no evidence to suggest that that was an official site for which there was no dumping at all,” he told journalists, but noted that he was not encouraging the public to dump garbage at the location.

The other defence lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson, was adamant that the criminal charge should not have been laid against his clients.

“These three persons ought not to have been charged under this legislation that has brought them before the court,” he said. “There is an alternative process in the legislation where, if it is believed by the authorities that a person is littering, then the person can be ticketed. To charge the person for a criminal offence suggests that there may have been some other motive in this prosecution.”

Dalrymple-Philibert and her son, when approached for a post-ruling interview, stated that they had no comment on how they felt about the charge and eventual vindication.

Champagnie, however, said: “All accused persons are relieved.”

The court had heard that on the date of the incident police were patrolling along Salem main road when they observed that three people exited a Toyota Hiace motor truck and began disposing of garbage.

The cops approached the trio and told them that the area was not designated as a dump site.

It is alleged that Dalrymple-Philibert scoffed at the cops, asking, “You know who I am?” She reportedly went on to tell the lawmen that she is a lawyer, speaker of the House of Representatives, and Member of Parliament for Trelawny Southern.

The court also heard that the police instructed the three to reload the garbage onto the truck, and they complied.

They were later charged at Runaway Bay Police Station.

Tavares-Finsonwas adamantthat the criminalcharge shouldnot have beenlaid against hisclients.

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