Trial delays cut into Ninja Man's savings
A judge has given prosecutors one last chance to commence the murder trial of popular entertainer Ninja Man.
And this is welcomed news for the entertainer, whose given name is Desmond Ballentine, as he said the delays have caused his savings to dwindle because he is not able to earn from overseas shows.
"All of my work have been tampered with. I can't get to do no work. I can't get to go overseas or nothing. My bank book a go dung to nothing," Ballentine said. "Through the eight years weh me siddung not doing nothing, is my bank book mi haffi a use. You cannot go to anybody and tell them that you ready to go to foreign on a show and you don't have a passport."
When Ballentine was granted bail, he was ordered to submit his passport to the state as part of his bail condition.
ARRESTED AND CHARGED
The entertainer was arrested in 2010 along with his son, Janiel, and two other men, Seymour Samuels and Dennis Clayton, and charged with the fatal shooting of Ricardo Johnson a year earlier.
However, records show that since then, the case was listed for trial 17 times (including yesterday), but failed to get under way and has been mentioned in court a total of 23 times.
The unavailability of courtroom space was once again the reason for the postponement.
The trial has been pending for nearly seven years.
Prosecutors, led by Paula Llewellyn, the director of public prosecutions, revealed in the Home Circuit Court yesterday that the case is now set to commence next Tuesday.
Justice Martin Gayle, who presided over the hearing, also made it clear that there would be no more delays, and that on Tuesday, prosecutors will have to put forward their case against the popular entertainer.
But according to top criminal defence attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson, who is representing Ninja Man, this is not the first time a High Court judge has insisted that prosecutors present their case on the next court date.
She revealed that in 2014, the entertainer's then attorney, KD Knight, made an application before a judge in the Home Circuit Court to have the charge dismissed, citing the lengthy delays.
However, she said the judge refused the application, and insisted that prosecutors commence the trial on the next court day in May 2015.
"That did not happen," Neita-Robertson said. She revealed, too, that the lead police investigator in the case had indicated in court that one of the main prosecution witnesses is now in Antigua and unable to return to the island because her passport has been taken.
Nonetheless, Ballentine is convinced that the case will begin next Tuesday.
"I figure next week Tuesday they will make some progressive moves," Ballentine said. "The DPP has come there today (yesterday) and said that she is asking for more time so she can look and see what is happening so she can make them mek a decision."