Friday, July 14, 2017
By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Environment and Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett was released from custody by the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon. His bail was set at $50,000 with two sureties.
Mr Dorsett, 46, is accused of using his former ministerial position to extort and solicit $120,000 in bribes from Johnathan Ash. As a condition of his bond he must surrender his travel documents to the court and cannot leave the jurisdiction without the Supreme Court’s permission. He was remanded to the Department of Correctional Services on Thursday on nine criminal charges: a single count of misconduct in public office and four counts each of extortion and bribery.
The allegations concern the purported exchange of funds in connection with work done by a heavy equipment operator to move debris from the New Providence Landfill following a massive fire at the site in March.
Dorsett appeared before Justice Carolita Bethel in the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon for a bail hearing that was held in chambers and lasted about 30 minutes.
“The Attorney General’s office did not object to bail,” Wayne Munroe, QC, told reporters following the hearing.
“And bail was granted in the amount of $50,000 with two sureties, the only condition being that he surrender his passport and not leave the jurisdiction without leave of the court which means if he has to leave and travel he has to come to court and get permission.”
“Classically this offence is one that is bailable. There’s an amendment in 2014 that meant that the magistrate cannot grant bail. We’ve said it before, in most of these cases when the matter comes to Supreme Court there’s absolutely no objection to bail by the Office of the Attorney General. It’s just that as a matter of law, the magistrate cannot grant bail. So it’s not as if the magistrate said I can’t grant bail, but I’m not granting you bail because of the severity of the offence, because I think you may reoffend, none of that.”
“It’s just that the law says that you can’t consider it at all.”
When asked if the bond was unusually high, Mr Munroe noted that each judge has their own measures on how they set bond limits.
“The amount of the bail only becomes an issue if you don’t show up,” Mr Munroe added.
As for the next step, the lead lawyer said they intend to prepare for Dorsett’s defence
“Since some clever person put these documents out on social media that showed the witnesses, people have been approaching me saying ‘I know some of these people and I know things about them that may assist you.’ I had somebody approach me when I was leaving Dr (Bernard) Nottage’s funeral and so I thank whoever did put it on social media cause it publicized the names of the witnesses and I would encourage anybody who knows the true character of the people listed as witnesses, civilians and police officers, to get in touch and let us know what you know about these people.”
Dorsett’s extortion charges were brought contrary to Section 453 (1) of the Penal Code, Chapter 84 while the bribery charges were brought under Section 3(2)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Act Chapter 88.
The misconduct in public office was brought contrary to common law.
It is alleged that Dorsett, while a public official between March 1 and May 9 this year, demanded and obtained two payments of $10,000 and two payments of $50,000 from Mr Ash knowing he was not lawfully authorised to make such demands. Dorsett, who denies the allegations, is scheduled to return to the Magistrate’s Court on August 31.