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Defense attorney reacts: “There was not an unacceptable risk of flight”

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Posted: Wednesday, June 9, 2021. 6:00 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith made brief comment as to a successful application for bail for his client Jasmine Hartin shortly after the decision was made around 2 p.m.

After enumerating some of the conditions his client must answer to in order to be admitted to bail, Smith explained that the prosecution did not establish that his client was sufficiently poised to attempt to flee the jurisdiction if granted bail.

Justice Herbert Lord agreed with him, Smith said, that “there was not an unacceptable risk of flight once the proper conditions are put in place.”

Those conditions are: 1) $30,000 cash deposit or surety of self and one other; 2) surrender all travel documents and Canadian passport, including identification, Social Security, etc. to the court for as long as the matter is under consideration; 3) not to leave the jurisdiction except with the permission of the court on application; 4) must attend each and every session of the case in the San Pedro Town Magistrate’s Court; 5) restricted by curfew to her place of residence between seven p.m. each night and six a.m. each morning for the duration of the case; 6) must report to San Ignacio Town Police Station (the station nearest her planned place of residence) once daily between seven a.m. and five p.m.; 6) not to engage in any conduct that would wilfully hinder, impede or otherwise obstruct the investigation; 7) not contact witnesses herself or through servants or other agents; 8) continue to be of good behaviour.

The Commissioner of Police and Director of Immigration are to be served with a copy of the court order, sent to all border points nationwide. Any breach of the above results in the immediate, as emphasized by the judge, revocation of bail.

Smith continued that the court carefully considered his “checklist,” as created from previous legal precedents and common law, as to his client being of good character, having no previous convictions or charges in Belize; generally being of good morals; having personal (through her children who are dual citizens of Belize and Canada) and economic (investments in business) ties to Belize; a stable residence (which before the case was in San Pedro and will now be in San Ignacio); and the severity of the offence and likely punishment.

Based on the above, he said, the court found in his client’s favour on virtually all of these items except for the matter of the case (in which Justice Lord guardedly said a prima facie case had been made out, to be tested at preliminary inquiry and ultimately at trial) and the punishment (a maximum of five years’ imprisonment, though precedent establishes a non-custodial or short custodial sentence).

Smith said he would now work to get his client out before the end of the day, but not what happens thereafter.

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