Although they had been friends for years and owned neighbouring businesses in Virgin Gorda, Paget Jarvis and Mohamed Kaddoura found themselves facing off in Magistrates’ Court on Jan. 25, with the prosecution alleging that Mr. Jarvis threatened Mr. Kaddoura with a pickaxe during an argument on Aug. 30, 2018.
Mr. Jarvis’s attorney, however, denied these allegations, and claimed that Mr. Kaddoura had acted as the aggressor and that his brother Saif Kaddoura — who was the investigating police officer assigned to the case — had mishandled his responsibilities as an officer of the law.
Saif Kaddoura, though, testified that he had stepped in as police officer only because he thought Mr. Jarvis posed a threat to people’s safety, and that he had acted properly in that capacity.
Prior to the trial, Mr. Jarvis pleaded not guilty to using indecent and threatening language, resisting arrest, escaping lawful custody, and being armed with an offensive weapon.
Asked by Crown Counsel Jamal Bridgewater to describe the events leading up to the altercation in Spanish Town, Mohamed Kaddoura testified on Monday that he and Mr. Jarvis were in the process of rebuilding their properties following the 2017 hurricanes, and both had been flooded by recent rains.
Mr. Kaddoura’s store — Bay 6 Mini Mart, previously called Mr. Nice Guy — is adjacent to the Wheelhouse Bar and Restaurant, which Mr. Jarvis owns.
The two owners had previously enjoyed a good relationship, but it began to sour when Mr. Jarvis complained that his restaurant was suffering as a result of Mr. Kaddoura’s construction, the complainant alleged.
On the day in question, an argument in which Mr. Jarvis blamed Mr. Kaddoura’s construction for the water flooding his restaurant escalated to the point where Mr. Jarvis, wielding a pickaxe, threatened to bash the complainant in his face, Mr. Kaddoura testified in response to the prosecutor’s questions.
However, he alleged that he kept calm and tried to resolve the matter peacefully before his brother arrived and took the axe away from Mr. Jarvis.
But when it was time for the complainant to be cross-examined by Mr. Jarvis’ lawyer, Cheriese Archibald, the attorney painted a different picture.
During her cross-examination, Ms. Archibald suggested that Mr. Kaddoura actually hadn’t acted with as much restraint as he claimed, and that the defendant never advanced on him with a pickaxe.
Mr. Kaddoura disputed both suggestions.
“No, I disagree, because he did pick up the pickaxe and came at me,” he said.
Ms. Archibald also suggested that he had told the defendant, “‘I am going to eff you up,’” but Mr. Kaddoura denied this allegation as well.
The prosecution then called a witness, Marilin Santo Hernandez, an employee at Mr. Kaddoura’s store.
Ms. Hernandez, a Spanish speaker who addressed the court through a translator, testified that on the day of the incident, she was working in the front of the store when she heard a commotion outside at the other end of the business.
She saw that Messrs. Jarvis and Kaddoura were speaking to each other but had no idea what they were saying, she testified.
After watching the incident for about 10 minutes, Ms. Hernandez noticed customers waiting to be helped, so she returned to her work, she said.
She added that she did not see what unfolded after Saif Kaddoura arrived on the scene.
Asked by Mr. Bridgewater what happened to the axe, Ms. Hernandez said she didn’t know, though she acknowledged that she saw Mr. Jarvis holding it.
Saif Kaddoura, a 20-year veteran of the police force, was then called to the stand to testify. While being questioned by Mr. Bridgewater, he said that while off-duty, he was walking out of an appointment at the nearby Eureka Medical Clinic when he saw Mr. Jarvis and his brother engaged in a “heated argument.”
He alleged that he then rushed over and tried to wrest the axe from Mr. Jarvis’ hands, and while doing so, heard Mr. Jarvis tell his brother, “I’ll put a hole in your head.”
The officer subsequently told onlookers to call the police, and reminded the defendant, who he “knew very well,” that he himself was a police officer in plainclothes and would arrest him if he didn’t desist, he testified.
At this, the defendant said, “Lock up [expletive] who?” the police officer alleged.
The police officer then became fearful that Mr. Jarvis would cause harm to someone in the area, and placed him under arrest, but Mr. Jarvis broke free and left the premises, he alleged.
Saif Kaddoura, along with other officers, arrested Mr. Jarvis at the Wheelhouse later that afternoon, he said.
During her cross-examination, Ms. Archibald asked the police officer if, sometime during the afternoon, two other police officers took Mr. Jarvis’ statement at a supermarket without arresting him.
“I cannot speak about what I was not privy to,” Saif Kaddoura said.
She also asked if he took it upon himself to investigate the incident instead of handing the matter over to a different police officer.
“That is incorrect,” he responded.
After Ms. Archibald had finished her cross-examination, Magistrate Tamia Richards posed what she called “the million-dollar question,” asking Saif Kaddoura how he got assigned to the case. He responded that he decided to intervene as a police officer because he believed that a dangerous threat was imminent.
Asked by Ms. Richards why the matter wasn’t handed over to another officer, Mr. Kaddoura said that he and his superior discussed the possibility but his supervisor decided against it despite Mr. Kaddoura’s initial protestations.
The matter was adjourned until March 23 so that the defence could make a paper submission to the court