Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part III

The Events of November 18, 1973

Paragraphs 108 thru 109. - An Examination in Detail [Part 16] - Consideration of the evidence of Belmar & Andrews

108. Innocent Belmar joined the Police Force in 1956. After 13 years as a constable he was promoted to corporal in 1969, to sergeant in 1970 and to inspector in 1972. In 1973, he was promoted to the commissioned rank of Assistant Superintendent. Evidently, he has a high regard for his talents and is not burdened by the cares of modesty.

Shortly after the incident on November 18 he was directed to remain off duty on leave but, according to him, he had to be recalled from leave in February 1974 in order to deal with a developing situation involving explosives and guns. The Minister of National Security, Hon. E.M. Gairy expressed confidence in his work and Belmar considered him a good friend. Be that as it may, it is clear that Belmar believed himself to be a police officer of high importance and was treated as such by Mr. Gairy.

The police station diary for Grenville - entry 1145 - records that on November 14, 1973, Asst. Supt. James issued an order to all stations that the Hon. Premier wished to speak to all policemen and police aides at Fort George on Friday, November 16, 1973, at 9:00 a.m.; but on November 15, 1973 - entry 1203 - records that a message directly from the Hon. Premier required that Asst. Supt. Belmar and Sgt. 108 Andrews should attend a meeting at Mount Royal at 9:15 a.m. on November 16, 1973.

The station diary for the Central police station in St. George's records - entry 1785 - at 2212 hrs. that Asst. Supt. Belmar of the Eastern Division rang that station and instructed that the three prisoners, George Grainger, Eric Campbell and Eslyn Christopher must be taken to the cells as soon as they came from the hospital. When asked about this, Commissioner David agreed that those were instructions which an officer in an out district could not give to those at the Central police station nor, specifically, could they be given by a police officer stationed at Grenville. He conceded, however, that it seemed Belmar possessed considerable influence on the conduct of matters in the Police Force and that, having regard to the provisions of the statute relating to the possession of an offensive weapon, Belmar's instructions were unlawful.

Of all the police officers who gave evidence, and these included all the most senior officers - Belmar is the only one who claimed to have had authority to recruit police aides. He said he was given authority by Mr. Mervyn Barrow, a former Commissioner of Police and from Mr. Nugent David the Acting Commissioner who succeeded him. The fact is that the records kept by the Commissioner of Police showed a police aide strength at Grenville of 59 while Belmar swore that "subject to the correction of the record, there were about 100 between May and November and when they disbanded early in 1974, they numbered about 150."

He admitted, also, that 30 or 40 men were recruited in November, 1973, and that by the end of that month the strength was between 120 and 130 men. It will therefore be helpful to examine in some detail the evidence he gave on specific matters and the impressions he intended to convey by it.

109. Belmar's evidence and cross-examination was lengthy. It lasted altogether for about two full days of the hearing. He was a central figure against whom serious allegations including some of a criminal nature were made. He was the officer in charge of the Grenville police station on November 18; he claimed the responsibility for putting the police aides on alert that day; and said that, but for the specific instructions he gave to Insp. Andrews at 3:00 p.m. (15:00) on Sunday, November 18, which resulted in 100 odd police aides being on duty on the streets of Grenville within 15 minutes, there would only have been about 6 police aides on patrol duty in the streets of Grenville that afternoon.

In many ways he was the central figure in the events of that afternoon; consequently, his evidence deserved the most careful consideration having due regard not only to its considerable length, but also to his having to be separately represented in the circumstances almost of an accused person. Regard must be duly given also to the human problems of perception, recall and communication which necessarily arise where persons are required to testify about events months after their occurrence in a manner which may convey unreliability while stemming from a natural reticence or carefulness, or in language which is circumscribed by the limitations of their own vocabulary. Expectedly, there were many inconsistencies and contradictions in his evidence some of which might be attributable to the anxieties of his separate position in the enquiry, while others may reasonably have been due to genuine lapses of memory or yet to a peculiar perception of events occasioned by his allegedly exclusive knowledge of threats to his own security and to that of the station for which he was responsibly in charge. On the other hand, there were several items of evidence which circumstantially could not be resolved favourably to Belmar notwithstanding any benevolent considerations which should attend their examination.

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