Armed police, including some wearing hard helmets and carrying truncheons, were stationed outside the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Monday as Annamay Lewis, a 56-year-old vendor, of Layou, appeared in court charged with wounding St Vincent Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The police officers outnumbered the crowd as Lewis arrived in an unmarked police vehicle before being escorted into the building by a plain-clothes female detective.
Superintendent of Police, Hesran Ballantyne, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the police presence was to ensure law and order during the court proceedings.
As the accused woman, clad in a red blouse, blue jeans, black socks, white slippers, and a gold head tie, arrived, her daughter, Stacia Simmons-Lewis, who was sitting outside the court building, began shouting “My mother is innocent! My mother is innocent!
“I am here with a damaged spine and I have to up and down with my mother,” she cried, adding that despite her medical condition, she had to show support for her mother.
“My mother is innocent!” Simmons-Lewis repeatedly screamed. “My mother will not be made a scapegoat! My mother will not be made a scapegoat!” she said.
Superintendent of Police, Clauston Francis, warned her to be quiet given that she was in the precinct of the court and her behavior would not be tolerated. He told her that if she persists, she would be arrested for breaching the Public Order Act.
Lewis’ younger sister, Janneemay Lewis, sobbed as she attempted to console her niece.
When the matter was called before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge that on August 5, at Kingstown, she unlawfully and maliciously wounded Ralph Gonsalves.
Her attorneys, led by Kay Bacchus-Baptiste requested bail, telling the court that the prosecution had no objections to the person, who would serve as the surety.
Director of Public Prosecution, Sejilla Mc Dowall. confirmed that she had no objection to bail, telling the court “none at all”.
The magistrate set bail at EC$3,000 and adjourned the matter to September 15.
Bacchus-Baptiste has requested full disclosure in the matter, with McDowall telling the court “we will comply as standard”.
The defence lawyer said that she would like disclosure made as soon as possible, adding “my client has suffered” and that she would like the trial to take place as soon as possible.
The magistrate ordered disclosure by August 31 and kept the September trial date.
Bacchus-Baptiste later told reporters that Lewis’ legal team was ready with its defence even though it had not seen all of the disclosure as yet.
“I don’t want her to languish. I don’t want her to suffer. This lady is innocent. This lady was forced to give a statement that is not true. I don’t want this matter to linger. We are going to try and get a trial as soon as we get disclosure.
“I even see it as an abuse against women because the police know that they have the wrong person but yet they forced her to confess and then to bring this stupid charge against her. We will defend her,” said Bacchus-Baptiste, a member of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which along with two trade unions had staged last Thursday’s street demonstration when Prime Minister Gonsalves was injured and had to be flown to Barbados for further medical treatment.