Black Immigrant Daily News
Individuals are being warned against irresponsibly signing bail for persons, especially for those who are not their immediate family members.
Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes sternly advised the public to take the responsibility of being a surety seriously.
Weekes gave the advice as a 75-year-old man stood before him as a surety for his daughter’s ex-boyfriend in Supreme Court #4.
The accused missed his court date in 2022, and the pensioner could have been required to pay $20,000 to the court.
The elderly man informed the Chief Magistrate that he has received no updates on the case since signing for the man’s bail back in 2013. When informed about the amount that he could be required to pay, he stood up straight and turned to look at the accused in shock.
“I never heard that number before,” he told Chief Magistrate Weekes, while adding that he truly thought the bail was set at $3,000.
Chief Magistrate Weekes told the pensioner he made a “huge error” in judgement at his “big age”.
“At your age, I don’t know why in heaven’s name you would be so reckless to go and sign bail for somebody you don’t know because he is the boyfriend of your daughter…That is not common sense!” the Chief Magistrate exclaimed.
“You all are not taking these responsibilities seriously. You signed bail for a man at your age and you don’t know what is going on with the case. You don’t have a clue,” he added.
Speaking to Loop News, the Chief Magistrate stressed that a surety should be constantly in communication with the accused on the proceedings of the case.
In the event that the accused is unable to attend court because of sickness, the surety should inform the court and present a health certificate in his or her stead.
“We can understand the natural Bajan inclination to want to help your relative or your friend, but at the end of the day it is about understanding the serious responsibility involved.”
“As much as you want to get out your relative, there are serious financial consequences, and for those who put up their properties and their houses, even more so. That is why there are people who put up their bank accounts and their bank accounts are frozen. You signed $50,000 off to someone and then they skip the island, you lose $50,000.
And how many of these people at their station in life can lose that money? So it is a major responsibility and I believe people should appreciate it before they lose all that they have,” he emphasised.
The 75-year-old pensioner told the court he received $486 biweekly and would be unable to pay the maximum sum of $20, 000.
Weekes exercised his discretion and ordered for $1,500 to be paid to the court by the accused on behalf of the surety.