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Mar 6, 2019

Pook Brothers Are Released from Prison

After languishing behind bars awaiting a verdict for more than three years, a trio of siblings got their freedom today. The Pook brothers: Michael, Ryan and Adrian, walked out of the Supreme as free men from a charge of murder. The siblings were tried in 2015 before Justice Troadio Gonzalez, but the justice retired leaving the men’s fate in limbo. After successfully securing bail for them in February, today, attorneys Leslie Mendez and Leeroy Banner got them off. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Troadio Gonzalez

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This morning, brothers Michael, Ryan and Adrian Pook were set free after being held on pretrial detention since May 2011.  The siblings were on remand and had been tried for the murder of taxi man Errol Ferguson who was mortally wounded during a stabbing incident on Mahogany Street earlier that month.  Despite the matter being heard in its entirety by Justice Troadio Gonzalez, a decision was never handed down and the men continued to languish in prison three years after the trial.  Attorneys Leslie Mendez and Leeroy Banner collaborated on the case and on February fifth, were successful in securing bail on their behalf.


Leslie Mendez

Leslie Mendez, Attorney for Pook Brothers

“This morning, what was set before the court was an application to stay the criminal proceedings against the three defendants which are the three Pook brothers.  This came from an application that Mr. Leeroy Banner and myself made on February fifth to have these proceedings stayed based on the fact that an unreasonable amount of time has lapsed in the entire proceedings, but more particularly in the delivery of any verdict.  So even today when we were before the court there was no indication that a verdict was going to be delivered at any point in time in the future.”


And that’s because arguments in the matter against the trio had been concluded since mid-December 2015.  Justice Gonzalez subsequently vacated the bench without rendering a decision.


Leslie Mendez

“As we understand it, now having them brought before a new judge, what we were facing now was a retrial and so part of our submissions was also that a retrial in these circumstances where an entire trial had gone and concluded, there was no verdict and we do not have, we would not have transcript.  There is no transcript and also during this passage of time the principal eyewitness also died.  So in these circumstances our position was that a retrial would have been oppressive and also futile, but mostly we were focusing on the fact that there was no verdict  and there wasn’t one that would be coming soon and that it was unreasonable to have these men waiting simply on a verdict for three years and some months.”


The case was heard by Justice Colin Williams.


Leslie Mendez

“It was regrettably, for the most part, an institutional delay, you know.  The prosecution had led its case, closed its case.  The defense had led its case, closed its case and the more significant delay here, I would say, was the institutional delay which there was no explanation for and I don’t see an explanation could have justified such a delay.”


Isani Cayetano

“I wouldn’t want to put you on the spot, but wouldn’t this be tantamount to an indictment of a judicial system where the matter had been thoroughly ventilated and it was only a decision that every party involved was awaiting and the trial judge took retirement without delivering that verdict?”


Leslie Mendez

“No, I don’t think that I can in any way sidestep saying that, that it’s really unfortunate.  I think it’s an embarrassment that we have this blotch in our legal history, particularly as it relates to criminal justice.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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