Veteran of Barbados Defence Force Ordered Dismissed After Being Found Guilty at Court Martial

Lieutenant David Harewood of the Barbados Coast Guard is fighting his conviction and dismissal. (File photo)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday June 6, 2019 – The most senior member of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) to face a court martial has been ordered dismissed from the armed forces, but that ruling will be challenged.

On Tuesday, days after having charges of communicating with the enemy dropped, 43-year-old Lieutenant David Harewood who was attached to the Barbados Coast Guard was found guilty of neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline by not informing his superiors about a threat to a junior Coast Guard member; and engaging in conduct that prejudiced the good order and military discipline by carrying out unauthorized information-gathering operations at various locations between January 1, 2018 and September 30, 2018.

A six-member CARICOM military panel that conducted the court martial ordered the dismissal of the 18-year BDF veteran – who could have been sentenced to up to two years in military prison – after handing down the verdict.

In handing down the decision, president Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Johnson of the Jamaica Defence Force said several factors were taken into consideration in arriving at the decision, including the evidence, the accused’s service record, the mitigation, the degree of criminality, previous convictions, the offence being committed and years of active service.

He said Harewood while had an unblemished record up to this point, the decision was made to dismiss him from the BDF.

But the soldier’s attorney Vincent Watson later told the media he would be appealing the ruling, contending that the findings of the court martial were not supported by the evidence led in the case.

Those findings must be confirmed by Deputy Chief of Staff of the BDF Commander Aquinas Clarke, who convened the court martial, before Harewood’s dismissal takes effect.

“I have to wait until such time as there is confirmation of the decision of the panel and I thereafter have 40 days in which to do it. Once the decision has been confirmed I shall be filing that appeal,” Watson said.

“As a lawyer one must always accept the decision of the court, but in this case I am of the view that the court went against the weight of evidence and of course went against the advice given by the judge advocate.”

During his mitigation after the verdict was handed down, Watson had urged the tribunal not to imprison his client as it was his first offence. He asked them to express leniency towards Harewood and to consider a fine, a dock in pay or a demotion of rank.

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