Fernander: Most suspects charged with murder last year already on bail

Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said yesterday most of the individuals charged with murder last year are already on bail.

Fernander made the comment after two more murders were recorded in The Bahamas.

He was asked by a reporter whether it is demoralizing to police to see the numbers of murder suspects on bail.

“Yes. It can be,” he responded.

“When you look at the [number] of individuals who were charged last year, and the [detection] rate is high. You don’t see that in the world when you’re talking about over 60 percent [detection] rate with respect to homicides.

“And out of that 67 percent, you are looking at between 80 to 90 matters solved, and if you were to do your research, you would note that the majority of those individuals are on bail as we speak. That’s a problem.”

Successive commissioners of police and ministers of national security have lamented the fact that many of the individuals thought to be responsible for murders were individuals on bail for other murders.

Many of the victims have also been individuals charged with murder who ended up on bail.

Last June, Prime Minister Philip Davis said the courts have to pay more attention to individuals who are going to be out on bail.

“The courts have to take control of their trials, so that people can have trials,” Davis said.

“I mean the backlog of cases is just astronomical and is almost nearing the [brink] of collapse in my view.

“And so, the courts have to step up and they need to hear these cases.”

The bail issue and legislative changes over the years have remained controversial given that suspects have a constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable period.

The judicial system has been plagued by a chronic backlog of cases, preventing many suspects from getting early trial dates.

Many end up on bail. Police say this contributes significantly to high crime rates.

The Bahamas – in particular New Providence – continues to experience significant levels of violent crime.

Yesterday, police reported two more murders.

One occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the Red Land Acres area, according to police.

The victim, a 32-year-old man, was sitting in front of a residence when a male exited a black Suzuki Swift and fired multiple gunshots at him.

An 18-year-old male of Kennedy Subdivision was arrested in connection with the crime, police said.

The second killing happened shortly before 2 a.m. yesterday in the area of Armbrister Street, Fox Hill, police said.

Relatives identified the victim as Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer Alvarez McCoy, 30, who had just pulled up home when he was shot. He died soon after in hospital, police said.

There have been nine murders since the start of the year, according to Nassau Guardian records.

Fernander said yesterday his soon-to-be-released policing plan for 2023 places a strong focus on prevention.

He added, “We’re looking forward to a good year working with the legal department with a view of taking these individuals off the streets who continue to offend and get bail.

“I’m talking about individuals who are on bail for two and three murders and something is wrong with that. We’re looking at swift justice, swift justice to be able to move quickly before the courts.

“Individuals who are found in possession of a firearm, 95 percent of the serious crimes that are occurring the weapon of choice is firearm, so we want to work hand in hand with the … justice system to make sure that it works and we will do our part as law enforcement.”

The Bahamas ended 2022 with a murder count of 128 – a 7.6 percent rise over the 119 murders reported in 2021.

The highest number of murders recorded in the country was 146 in 2015.

There were 73 in 2020; 95 in 2019; 91 in 2018; 122 in 2017 and 111 in 2016.

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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