Former ACP defends Debra Thompson

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Debra Thompson was not acting inappropriately when she met with Jonathan Ash and Deborah Bastian, former Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson said.

During the trial of former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson, it was revealed that Thompson, the officer who charged Gibson, had a joint meeting on September 25, 2017 between key prosecution witness Ash and Bastian, whose status had changed from suspect to prospective prosecution witness.

It was further revealed that she made changes to Ash’s police statements the day of the joint meeting.

“I don’t see anything wrong in what she did,” Paul Thompson told The Nassau Guardian, “unless she was forcing them to make a change in the statement.”

He continued, “You’re not having your witnesses come in to force them to make changes in their statement.

“I think that would be wrong. But if you call them in to clear up ambiguities in the statements they have made, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

“It’s been done for years; and not only by us, by forces all over the world.”

The revelations about the meeting and consequent changes have raised questions on police conduct.

During the trial, Debra Thompson said that she was “wrong in hindsight”.

On Thursday, The Tribune reported that Damian Gomez, QC, indicated that Gibson’s defense team plans to file a complaint against Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson who was allegedly aware of the meeting, in addition to taking legal action.

However, in response, Paul Thompson said, “Press charges for what?”

He insisted that it would be wrong for an officer to tell a witness what to write, and that in that case the witness would have to admit they were coerced; but he noted that if the witness realized they had made an error and asked the officer to make the change on their behalf, that “there’s nothing wrong with that”.

“It depends on if she forced the change, which I don’t think happened,” he said.

“I think that probably the person who made the statement wanted to make the change, and made the change.

“If the person said, ‘Yes I made an error, I wish to change it,’ then you put in the statement, a further statement… and this is the correct statement.

“You don’t rewrite the complete statement… so what was previously said is there but… you correct what was previously said.”

He added, “I don’t think they should make this young woman a scapegoat.”

“I think she did her job.”

Ferguson declined to comment on the matter, saying on Friday that it would be “inappropriate” for him to do so.

Gibson was cleared of all charges last week after facing 15 counts of bribery in respect to $280,000 that he allegedly received from Ash in exchange for approving payments totaling $1 million for work done following the cleanup efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

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