Magistrate Tyrone Chin will determine the fate of a Bermudian policeman with more than 20 years of service, charged with using threatening behaviour, when he hands down his judgment in just over a week.
The court heard closing arguments in the case of Robert Butterfield on Friday. The officer stands accused of threatening Collingwood ‘Cooley’ Robinson, who is the father of the officer’s stepson.
The incident occurred outside of Warwick Academy in January last year.
At the centre of the case is a cell phone recording by the defendant, who told Mr Robinson: “I will f**k you up. You don’t know me. If it wasn’t for my job, I would have f****d you up.”
The defendant is also alleged to have pointed his finger in Mr Robinson’s face and at one point touched his chin, although there was some question as to whether he touched Mr Robinson on the cheek or his nose.
But the officer contends that Mr Robinson had been harassing him for years and called him a child abuser on the day in question, in front of his children.
Crown Counsel Javone Rogers, in his closing remarks, told the court that “this is a very simple case and it comes down to whether or not it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant used threatening words and behaviour”.
“It is our submission that the court has two things to consider – whether the words and actions were said and done, and whether it constitutes threatening behaviour,” he said.
“The words themselves are clear in what is intended to be perceived. The behaviour supports or leaves credence to what was said and this Court should have no different finding that Mr Butterfield’s words and actions constituted threats to Mr Robinson.
“Mr Butterfield will take the position that he was entitled to use the words that he did as a result of the provocation of Mr Robinson,” he added.
He also noted that the defendant gave evidence that he never lost self control, which would mean that provocation does not apply. But he said the officer had given evidence that “completely or largely contradicts that of the crown’s witnesses”.
“We submit that the defendant’s evidence is not reliable,” said Mr Rogers.
He also stated that the Crown’s case was further backed by both Crown witnesses, including that of a woman, who was in the school car park when the incident occurred.
“It is clear from the evidence that both the Crown witnesses, and Mr Butterfield himself, that those words were used for a specific purpose,” said Mr Rogers.
“Mr Butterfield stated quite frankly that enough was enough and he wished on his evidence for Mr Robinson to stop pestering him. He wished to do so in the strongest terms possible. The words themselves are clear in what is intended to be perceived.”
The defendant’s lawyer Marc Daniels, stressed that it was Mr Robinson who approached his client first and the incident started from there.
“Mr Butterfield was not the aggressor, and Mr Butterfield started driving away,” said Mr Daniels, who also noted that Mr Robinson called his client “a child molester”.
He also noted that his client had filed “six or seven complaints” against Mr Robinson since September in 2009, including a formal caution for “using offensive words to Mr Butterfield”, with conditions not to approach or speak to or about Mr Butterfield.
“The letter says the offence can be reactivated,” he said. “He (Mr Robinson) has been the one causing Mr Butterfield genuine heartache.
“Mr Robinson has continuously sought to lie and change his story which is demonstrative of his character – he’s playing everybody,” he added.
The only force his client used, he said, was “forceful words”.
Overall, he said Mr Robinson tried to manipulate the court due to what he termed “a longstanding grudge” against Mr Butterfield.
He also pointed out that the woman called as a witness for the Crown did not make a formal written statement to police until a month after the incident occurred, and that she may not have an accurate recollection of the confrontation.
“The question is what words and actions were said and done,” said Mr Daniels. “You can believe the Crown and disregard the tape, or you believe the tape and you disregard the Crown witnesses.”
And the words on the tape, he said, did not amount to a threat and the actions were mild in terms of provocation.
“Even if we take it at its highest and come to the conclusion that his finger was pointed and touched a cheek, it’s the most minimal contact,” he added.
He concluded that “the evidence is insufficient”, and “in the absence of concrete evidence” against a police officer of 20 years, his client should be acquitted.
Magistrate Chin noted that this case started in August 2017, and that he wished to bring it to an end with a prompt ruling, which will be handed down on January 16th.
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