In Barbados, Court Marshals are officers of the Court Process Office. When an officer of the court threatens a person in custody it is cause for concern.

Yesterday, September 24, 2010, a Barbados newspaper, the Nation,  carried an article on a wrongful arrest. (See Story Carried in Nation below.) This article prompted me to look up the official court record, where I found serious allegations of violent threats made by officers of the Barbados court.

I read Barbados High Court case No 1495 of 2005, where Anthony Ward successfully sued the Attorney-General of Barbados.  No 1495 of 2005, BETWEEN: ANTHONY RICARDO WARD PLAINTIFF AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF BARBADOS DEFENDANT.

Here is the first alleged threat I spotted (quote):

The Marshall that was restrained, had cooled off somewhat but he came to the window and pointed at me and said “I am going to hurt you bad, even if I have to come to the prison to hurt you”.

This quote gives a summary of the wrongful arrest of US resident, Mr. Anthony Ricardo Ward:

Summary of events    

[5]        The facts are derived from the plaintiff’s unchallenged affidavit evidence. 

[6]        The plaintiff was born in Barbados but resides in the United States of America.  He is trained as a Chef and has worked steadily since 1971 here and overseas in senior positions. On 23 June 2005, he came to his homeland, on holiday, and took up residence at Brighton, St. Michael where he owns a house. It was there that the events underlying his claim started to unfold on 1 July 2005.     

[7]        On that day, the Court Marshals were in search of a man with forename, middle initial and surname identical to the plaintiff’s.  At approximately 6.00 a.m., a number of them besieged the plaintiff’s house, broke down his door, handcuffed him, dragged him from the house, knocked him about, placed him in a vehicle and took him away. They took him to the Island’s prison which was located, at that time, at Harrison’s Point, St. Lucy. He was detained there until approximately 2 p.m.       He suffered physical and psychiatric injuries as a result of the episode.

It is scary that an innocent person could go to Barbados on holiday and end up in jail. I wonder what would have happened if this visitor did not have the resources to employ a Queens Counsel lawyer like Alair Shepherd!

Alleged Threat From Female Marshal

11]      The further evidence is that, en route to the prison, the other detainees were allowed to use their mobile phones but the Marshals refused to allow the plaintiff to telephone his sister. When he asked a female Marshal why he was being discriminated against in this way, she threatened that if he did not shut up he would be taken onto a “cart road” and beaten. He took the threat seriously and remained silent.

Plaintiff Not Allowed to Dress

Court Marshals burst into Ward’s residence and caught him in his underwear. They dragged him off in the same condition, where he was exposed to the scrutiny of the other detainees.

31. They had 9 guys in this holding cell and when I walked into the holding cell, these 9 guys were looking at me up and down because I had walked in there in boxer shorts and T-shirt 

To throw a man in jail wearing his underwear is humiliating and degrading. It could also be dangerous.

Story Carried in Nation

Here is how the Nation Newspaper (September 24, 2010) saw it: $50 000 error (

A man, who was wrongly dragged away from his home and imprisoned by court marshals, has been awarded nearly $50 000 in damages.

In a case of mistaken identity five years ago, Anthony Ricardo Ward, a chef, of Brighton, Black Rock, St Michael, ended up in custody for eight hours and was only released after his sister paid an $800 fine owed by another man with a similar name.

Recently Acting Justice Olson Alleyne awarded Ward $25 000 for assault, battery and false imprisonment; $15 000 for exemplary damages and $6 000 for pain and suffering and loss of amenities.

Ward, through attorneys Alair Shepherd, QC, and Philip McWatt, sued the Government, and the parties reached an agreement in November 2007.

Isolated Incident or Standard Operating Procedure?

Mr. Ward must have had a terrifying and degrading experience. I hope that this does not happen again. I also hope that the courts will have the decency to give this innocent man an apology. That apology should come from the top.

I would like to ask Sir David Simmons to elaborate on this story. Sir David was Chief Justice and the head of the Barbados courts at the time of the incident, but he has recently retired from that position.


Disclaimer: While the above allegations are documented, they are still allegations.