( Barbados Today ) The High Court has granted an interim injunction in favour of surgeon Dr Sahle Griffith which prevents the authorities from charging him criminally in the death of Warren Mottley, brother of Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
This latest move follows Coroner Graveney Bannister’s ruling in late December 2022 that Dr Griffith and anesthesiologist Dr Nigel Farnum were negligent in Mottley’s death.
After two days of legal arguments by the parties involved, Justice Barry Carrington on Tuesday
handed down his verdict in the preliminary matter which is in place pending the outcome of a judicial review of Coroner Bannister’s ruling.
Just days before Christmas, the coroner found the doctors, who were in charge of Mottley’s care leading up to his passing, criminally negligent in his death. In fact, Magistrate Bannister said the conduct of both doctors was “so bad in all the circumstances” that it would amount to a criminal act and that they were “negligent and concerned in the cause of his death”.
While lawyers for the State argued against the granting of the interim injunction, attorneys for Dr
Griffith contended that to arrest and charge him for any criminal offence related to Mottley’s death would do “irreparable” harm to his career and to his professional and personal reputation which could not be restored by monetary compensation in the event that he succeeded at the judicial review.
They argued that the balance of justice favoured the granting of the interim injunction.
The legal team for the State resisted this argument and asked the court to refuse the application
by Dr Griffith for an interim injunction.
But Justice Carrington accepted the position of Ralph Thorne, King’s Counsel – lead attorney for
the claimant – and his associates Hal Gollop, KC, Harlow Broomes and Emerald Griffith.
“We made the application because the nature of the coroner’s verdict could make its logical destination a criminal charge by the police. We cannot afford this clear and present danger to our client’s high standing and outstanding career, while we proceed with the challenge to what we consider to be an unlawful verdict,” Thorne told Barbados TODAY after the ruling.
Roger Forde, KC, who is representing Coroner Bannister in conjunction with Acting Solicitor
General Anika Jackson and State Counsel Nicole Boyce explained “It’s not a case as yet. The court only granted an injunction which said ‘we are going to grant an injunction so he wouldn’t get arrested until we hear the matter’.”
“Normally when the coroner gives a verdict and he believes that anybody commits a criminal offence, he sends it to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] and the person can be charged,” Forde told Barbados TODAY.
“He granted an injunction, if they are challenging the verdict and said ‘look, don’t let anybody be charged while they are challenging the verdict…because the verdict says the guy was criminally negligent, or words to that effect,’” the legal representative for Magistrate Bannister added.
“He’s saying ‘let’s hear the case and see if the verdict is safe or we will set it aside’. If the verdict is safe, then the police can do what they feel like,” Forde explained.
The injunction was heard by Justice Carrington following an urgent filing on Monday and Tuesday after Dr Griffith’s lawyers amended the substantive application to add the Commissioner of Police to the original defendants, Coroner Bannister and the Office of the Attorney General.
Warren, 54, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 29, 2021, a week after a routine colonoscopy at Surgical Solutions Inc., where Dr Griffith is the principal.