BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – ATTORNEY GENERAL and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Vincent Byron Jr. is inflexibly wedded to the belief that the State does not owe any money to popular educator and talk show host Newrish Nital.
The issue was raised on Monday (Jul. 22) by an overseas-based caller to the ‘Straight Talk’ talk show programme hosted by the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd, on WINN FM 98.9.
The caller said: “I know he had a case and he won the case and appeal, and it was some settlement with this Administration for the amount of seven hundred and something thousand. But teacher Byron, for the past three years the brother the brother has been waiting for his money. And teacher Byron can you tell me, can you assure me and the rest of the Federation that brother Nital will get his money in the next 30 days? Because from what I was told, not by brother Nital, I was reliably informed that it’s just up to you brother Byron.”
When asked by the host if such a case was brought forward by Nital, AG Byron responded in the negative.
“I am not certain what he is talking about! I know that Mr. Nital had had a matter in which he had had a conviction in one court and had appealed. And in the appeal his conviction had been overturned. And I am not aware that there had been any question of him having to receive, there were any judgments or damages in $700,000. And I need to state that the whole justice system will collapse if every time somebody goes to court and is found not guilty on such a criminal matter if the State has to pay damages; because the justice system will grind to a halt.”
The host then stated: “So, there was no case brought by Newrish Nital or he was awarded damages in the amount of $700,000 or any amount period.”
“I don’t know of any such case,” was the AG’s response. “As far as I am aware, Mr. Nital has not sued anybody for damages.”
Subsequently, Nital had called in on the programme and challenged the AG’s statement. He also claimed that the AG was dishonest and promised to deal with the issue on his own talk show at one of the local radio stations in St. Kitts.
“I have an issue with Mr. Byron. He’s been very dishonest and I have to set the record straight. He is very much aware of what is taking place; he is very much aware that you don’t always go to the court to establish any quantum. I went to Mr. Byron, he put me on to Ms. Bullen in order for her to sit in an interview to establish quantum. She had completed the file and passed the file on to Juicy Byron’s office and he is taking dear time doing what. So what he is saying there doesn’t make any sense. He cannot make people believe that they don’t know what they are saying.”
In response, AG Byron maintained his position that no money is owed to Nital and said, “I will want to ask Mr. Nital what is the grounds of his claim.”
In his closing remarks, the Attorney General said: “Mr. Nital has come on the air and suggested that he has some agreement with the Solicitor General and that I somehow upholding that. I would want to have that discussion with the Solicitor General, and I would want to engage Mr. Nital, once that is cleared up, so that he can clearly understand what his rights are and what everything is happening there to be dealt with.”
On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, 2013, a smiling Newrish Nital had walked out of the Basseterre High Court and was congratulated by a number of persons in the legal profession.
He had appealed his conviction and sentence and had appeared before the Justices of Appeal at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal.
Nital was convicted on three counts of fraud by a 12-member jury on June 15, 2011 for the April 1, 2 and 4, 2008 incidents and sentenced to three years imprisonment on July 21, 2011.
He was said to have presented several United States Postal Service International Postal Money Orders to a cashier at the Basseterre Post Office with intent to defraud.
He had allegedly obtained EC$3,710, EC$1,855 and EC$3,710 on April 1, 2 and 4, respectively, from the cashier by presenting the money orders that later turned out to be fraudulent.
The educator was also said to have had five US$700 money orders and had taken them to the postal office on the said dates.
On March 12, 2013, during the last sitting of the Court of Appeal in the Federation, Nital was granted bail in the amount of EC$40 000 with two sureties pending his appeal.
Nital was self-represented at his Appeal hearing, where he presented a remarkable argument, citing cases to assist in his debate.
Among his grounds for appeal were:
• The learned trial judge refused to withdraw the case from the jury at the close of the prosecution's case on the submission being made that there was no evidence;
• The trial judge inadequately directed the jury when he failed to give direction regarding good character; and
• The trial judge's summation was grossly unbalanced and skewed.
After listening to arguments from both sides, the Justices of Appeal had upheld Nital's appeal and quashed his conviction and sentence.