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Jul 19, 2016

Mason and Company Arraigned for Kidnapping and Murder of Llewellyn Lucas

The arraignment of William Mason and the rest of the gang proceeded in the courtroom of the Chief Magistrate with all things cleared, following a few gaffes of Monday evening. The Chief Magistrate took into consideration the two jurisdictions in which the crimes were committed. The pastor was kidnapped allegedly at Mason’s house in Belmopan and beheaded at Mason’s farm at mile thirty-one in the Belize District.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano was inside the courtroom and files the following report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The indictment of Guyanese/Canadian businessman William Mason, along with four cohorts, successfully concludes the first round of prosecution in what is being described as a crime of great import.  The matter has the potential for far-reaching impact, since Mason is said to be well connected to a number of prominent government officials and politicians alike.  This morning, the men, including twenty-year-old Ernest Castillo, twenty-nine-year-old Keron Fernandez, twenty-nine-year-old Ashton Vanegas and thirty-year-old Terence Fernandez, were arraigned on a slew of charges.  Those allegations stem from the purported abduction of three men, including forty-seven-year-old Llewellyn Lucas, which resulted in his murder.  The commission of those crimes spanned both the Belize and Cayo jurisdictions.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams, Prosecutor

“The charge of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, they both occurred in the Belize Judicial District so by any account the court that would have jurisdiction to hear those two matters is the Belize City Magistrate’s Court.  As it relates to the kidnapping and the conspiracy to kidnap, again, those read in the Cayo Judicial District.  But again, as the Chief Magistrate rightly pointed out, as the Chief Magistrate she has jurisdiction over every magistrate’s court in Belize and she can make those arraignments.  So what she did is allow the arraignment and refer the matter back to Belmopan where they rightfully belong, and that is in respect to the kidnapping and the conspiracy to kidnap.  The murder and the conspiracy to commit murder remain in the Belize Judicial District.”

 

The case has been divided into individual crimes and corresponding jurisdictions.  Attorney Herbert Panton, who appeared on behalf of Mason and the other accused men, says that the basis of his submission were hinged on two factors.

 

Herbert Panton

Herbert Panton, Attorney for Mason, et al.

“There were two fundamental tenets to our submissions.  One is that this matter was already adjudicated on, so if you bring the same facts before the courts it amounts to forum shopping, and basically the same facts came before the court with a little addition here and there that did not in any way change the nature of the, tenuous nature of the facts.  And secondly, what ought to happen is that the prosecution ought to be given their fourteen days to get all their facts together because I don’ know if you were here earlier when I made the point that Mister Blackett indicated the fact that the Canadian national is not even in country.  He indicated that they had given two, they have gotten two separate statements.  One in person and one over the phone; both of them conflicting.  So how are you going to charge these people with kidnapping if you have two conflicting statements?  And he, the top cop, says, “We don’t know the nature of that investigation.  We don‘t know where those charges will lead as yet and today you come with kidnapping.  It is ridiculous, but we proceed to the next step.”

 

Pastor Lucas was allegedly taken from Mason’s residence near Intelco Hill in Belmopan on Friday afternoon, and was reportedly beheaded at a ranch near mile thirty-one on the George Price Highway.  Notwithstanding evidence, tangible and circumstantial, Panton argued that there was a lack of proof to substantiate the charges.

 

ACP Chester Williams

“I went and I did my legal research and came up with authority to guide the court as it relates to the fact that he was saying that there was not sufficient evidence when on the face of it there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to indicate that these five men are indeed responsible for the death of Mr. Llewellyn Lucas.  And when you look at the issue of circumstantial evidence, as I alluded to the court that it ought not to be taken in a piecemeal fashion but rather to be looked at wholesomely and the court would then look to see where it points when looked at holistically.  And that was what I did this morning before the court and, as I have said to the court or as I pointed out to the court that the issue of whether or not there is sufficient evidence is not a cherry to be had at this stage.”

 

While that proverbial cherry may not be ripe for the picking just as yet, Panton anticipates what evidence will be brought forward by the prosecution when it’s time for disclosure.

 

Herbert Panton

“We wait for disclosure to see the evidence that the prosecution has against my client.  Disclosure is set for the seventh of September I believe, so we’ll see what happens then.”

 

So how does a relatively unseasoned attorney get to sit in the driver’s seat of arguably the most high-profile criminal matter as a prosecutor?  Better yet, will Chester Williams remain in the driver’s seat going forward?

 

ACP Chester Williams

“Well I am not sure if I will be proceeding forward with the matter leading up to the preliminary inquiry.  I was asked to come and deal with the arraignment today to be able to rebut those submissions that Mr. Panton had made in Belmopan yesterday and that is exactly what I did today.”

 

Llewellyn Lucas

For context, the following is what attorney Herbert Panton told the media on Monday regarding an application that was filed in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court.

 

Herbert Panton

“I made an application that the facts of the case as they appear on the summary that was given to me did not, on the face of it, amount to prima facie evidence to charge them for murder, for conspiracy to commit murder, for kidnapping and for conspiracy to commit to kidnapping.  The prosecutor admitted in court that the facts did not disclose enough evidence to proffer the charges.  Based on that my submissions were held because the criminal procedure rules provide that where the facts do not disclose enough evidence either the prosecutor can withdraw the matter right away or the magistrate can adjourn it, give fourteen days for them to come back and proffer the charges.”

 

That application has been set aside and all five men have since been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until September fourteenth. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “Mason and Company Arraigned for Kidnapping and Murder of Llewellyn Lucas”

  1. Hatari says:

    This case to way too complicated for the PD and Mr. Chester to deal with. They do not have the expertise or experience to competently prosecute a case of this magnitude. And then throw in some corrupt politicians and greedy bureaucrats and without a doubt they will fail us again.

  2. Timber says:

    Well, Chester, you’re in the limelight as you always wanted to be. This is an uphill battle for you because even the PM knows this guy. Word is that his wife used to go to his house for hustlings. Let’s see which one of you will prevail and how long will it take for evidence to start disappearing. I heard that there was money found on him and that’s gone already. There will be a lot of singing before this is over with. There s nothing but bad press on this guy internationally and you all still let him roam freely in Belize. Now, you’re trying to do damage control. Let me plug this is, Tracy, as a childhood friend of yours from when you lived in the St. Ignatius area, WTF are you doing with this guy, Herbert Panton, as a husband? We both came from decent families and we can’t choose for anyone; but damn, you could have done better! Be careful he doesn’t become your downfall. I was in Belize and saw his behaviour twice, especially to members of your constituency. Is this what you want as a representation of you?

  3. Fran says:

    With all the corruption in the GOB offices, political figures etc etc.. the only way this son of a bitch will get justice is if someone on death row put his lights out permanently in jail. This guy paid off too many Ministers in the UDP party and is too well connected. Time for street justice.

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