DPP on leave and Virgin drops St Lucia route

We had hoped to update you on progress in St Lucia towards bringing those accused of murdering Roger Pratt to trial before the courts on the island closed for their usual summer break. 

Margaret has been in regular contact with the DPP’s office regarding the scheduling of the outstanding fitness to plead hearing for one of the defendants, as well as how this will impact on plans for a trial later in the year. Unfortunately, that contact has been one-way; the office of the highest level of the judiciary on St Lucia chooses not to engage with interested parties.

We understand that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also been making enquiries around progress on the case. It appears to have had no more success than Margaret.

It is a long, frustrating process and no doubt others connected to the case are as frustrated as we are.

The most pressing question we have relates to the fitness to plead hearing of one of the defendants. We understand that an evaluation took place on this matter some time ago, but that the psychologist involved has not yet been invited to speak with the courts and answer questions.

We need to know when this fitness to plead hearing will happen, and how the outcome of this hearing might affect the planned trial date, which we understand is still penciled in for late 2019.

We hope that the DPP is able to provide an update soon after the holiday period, when he is back from the summer recess.

Interesting feedback from the blog

For much of the time that we have been campaigning to bring those accused of murdering Roger to trial, we have held the view, encouraged by official sources, that the delays in the system were due to lack of capacity and capability in the court system.

Recently, however, we received word via the Justice for Roger blog highlighting growing rumours on the island that one of the defendants is related to someone senior in the justice system. This wouldn’t be a huge surprise, St Lucia is a very small island after all, but we’d like to make clear that this is not a theory that we are paying too much attention to.

Virgin Atlantic pulls flights to St Lucia

Finally, you may have heard that Richard Branson’s airline, Virgin Atlantic, has decided to stop its flights to St Lucia. The airline, which has flown direct to St Lucia for over 20 years, is to cease its three times weekly service from Gatwick to the island from June 2020.

Virgin Atlantic said in a statement that “As part of a recent network review, we’ve evolved our Caribbean offering, to ensure we continue to serve destinations most loved by our customers … … It’s never easy to withdraw from a destination and it’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly.”

At least one news outlet in the region has cited the Justice for Roger campaign and what it describes as “unsolved murders of British Tourists over the years and rising criminality on the island” as contributing factors to Virgin Atlantic’s decision.

This surely should be a matter of concern for St Lucia’s government at a time when it continues to invest millions of dollars in marketing to attract tourism to the island.

This blog has argued for some time that if the endemic crime wave on the Island was tackled with better policing and a functioning criminal justice system that tourists would be much more likely to visit and discover the beauty of St Lucia.


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