Barbados’ judicial system forgot Winston Adolphus Agard in prison for almost a decade. But after languishing on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds, without trial, he was allowed to go home yesterday after pleading guilty to the charge first brought against him in March 2009.
“I feel good! I feel good! I feel good!” was the declaration from the 50-year-old man as he left the court.
Agard got his day in the No. 2 Supreme Court due to the actions of prison officer Floyd Downes who informed court officials and Justice Randall Worrell that the now convicted man “fell through the cracks” and had not been before a judicial officer since 2012.
Agard pleaded guilty to stealing a bag and contents including $1,000 cash belonging to Connie Young on March 27, 2009. The total value was BDS$9,230. He had been arrested months later and remanded in January 2010.
“This is madness! That a man is sitting in prison for more than the maximum sentence and but for Mr Downes he would not get here today. Something is seriously wrong with the system, seriously wrong . . . it is ridiculous,” said attorney-at-law Angella Mitchell-Gittens, who took on Agard’s case pro bono as a friend of the court.
In an impassioned plea, she further argued that Agard be allowed to walk out of the Whitepark Road Supreme Court. She went on to say that when the facts and circumstances of Agard’s crime were examined and the guilty plea taken into consideration it was highly unlikely that he would have spent ten years in prison.
Justice Worrell also lauded the prison warden, who has been in the service for 27 years, for alerting the court of Agard’s predicament.
The judge ordered a probation report into his life before releasing him on his own recognisance and after signing the necessary documents Agard walked out of the court with a smile, although hiding his face at times. He is to return to court next month for a formal sentencing.
He has had 11 convictions including theft of newspapers and money.