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Giving alcohol to children not an offence

AZARD ALI Friday, January 6 2017

THERE is no offence known to law of giving alcohol to children, attorney Pamela Elder SC submitted to Deputy Chief Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan in the Princes Town Magistrates’ court yesterday. Elder, in making a nocase submission, said her client Reeshie Surajbally, 38, of Lothians Road, Princes Town, who is charged with giving alcohol to two minors and with kidnapping, should be freed as there is no offence of giving alcohol to children, in law.

She submitted that the evidence of the two young sisters, one of whom is still a primary school student, was manifestly unreliable in respect of indecent assault charges also laid on her client. Surajbally was arrested and charged with kidnapping the sisters, indecently assaulting them and giving them alcohol. The alcohol charges were laid under the Children’s Act. The victims, aged 14 and nine at the time, were allegedly found in a van in Barrackpore.

The children and their mother were called by State prosecutor Sarah de Silva to testify against Surujbally.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is pursuing the Preliminary Inquiry via paper committal in a hybrid form, in which some witnesses statements were sworn and filed for the defence, and other witnesses were called to give direct evidence, from the witness box.

Elder submitted to the court that Section 36 of the Children’s Act states it is an offence if a person gives or causes to be given to a child, a dangerous drug or a substance having an effect similar to that of a dangerous drug, except upon the order of a medical practitioner.

However, she added, there is no offence known to law that anyone could commit punishable as a crime, as giving alcohol to a child.

She asked the magistrate to uphold her no-case submission in respect of the giving alcohol charge preferred against her client. Elder further submitted that the evidence of the children were manifestly unreliable and on this basis, even if properly directed by a judge in the High Court, it would be dangerous for Surujbally to stand trial before a jury. Elder also tendered written legal submissions to Magistrate Rambachan. On January 16, State Attorney de Silva would reply to Elder’s submissions.



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