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2003-03-08 12:57:37

Pindling Denies Shocking Allegations

Mr Pindling said Newbold threatened him, saying "if you don't give us the $50,000 that we want, we're going to tell the Bahamian authorities that you paid us to kill Ms Cartwright."

Facing shocking allegations that he is connected to the 1996 murder of 601 Night Club manager, Joyanne Cartwright, Attorney Obie Pindling, son of former Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling, suggested Friday that he may have been linked to the crime after he refused to give the accused money.

Under the gaze of his sister, Senator Michelle Pindling-Sands, his attorney Philip "Brave" Davis, the accused, Ashley Newbold, and others, Mr Pindling started his testimony around 11am.

His presence on the witness stand came a day after a police officer testified that Newbold told police Mr Pindling shot and killed Joyanne Cartwright.

Mr Pindling said he first met Newbold around 1995, as he frequented his law office. Mr Pindling said Newbold met Ms Cartwright and he, Mr Pindling, also became friendly with the accused.

Mr Pindling said he assisted Newbold in getting a police record after telephoning a friend of his at a police station. He admitted that he had money in his possession for Newbold, who wasn't in the Bahamas at the time. But he did not say why he owed the accused.

He said sometime around December 1998, he received a call from an attorney in the State of Georgia, in the United States, whom he did not know. He said he continued receiving calls from this unknown lawyer, and eventually refused to accept the calls.

Mr Pindling said he then phoned an attorney friend of his in Georgia, who arranged for him to go and see Newbold.

He said Newbold started requesting funds, so he forwarded the money to his attorney friend in Georgia. Mr Pindling said he kept the remainder of the funds on Newbold's behalf, which he forwarded to him in portions, as he requested.

He said sometime in 2001, Newbold called him, requesting that more money be sent. He said by this time, all of the money was exhausted. However, Newbold called several weeks later for more money, he said.

Mr Pindling said he sent him $200 of his personal funds, and explained to him that the situation would not be able to continue, a matter which he said, did not make Newbold happy.

Mr Pindling said Newbold threatened him, saying "if you don't give us the $50,000 that we want, we're going to tell the Bahamian authorities that you paid us to kill Ms Cartwright."

Mr Pindling said he was very concerned and contacted former police officer, Basil Dean, who phoned the Criminal Investigations Department. As a result, CID officers went to Mr Pindling's law office and connected a phone tap to his line and told him to record his conversations with Newbold, Mr. Pindling testified.

Mr Pindling said each morning, the police would come and collect the tapes.

He also admitted to the court that he had a personal relationship with Ms Cartwright.

He said he knows Ms Cartwright's family as they were related through marriage and said he met her again in 1994, when she interviewed for a position in his law office.

Mr Pindling also offered an alibi, saying that on the night of the murder, his band, Visage, performed at a Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort staff Christmas party at the BCPOU Hall on

Farrington Road, which ended at 2:45am. He said he stayed behind after a party with a couple of friends "shooting the breeze."

Police believe Ms. Cartwright, who was 24, was murdered around 3:30 am.

Mr. Pindling said he heard of Ms Cartwright's death from his receptionist the next morning. He said he was contacted by the police that same day and was questioned later that afternoon for three hours.

Mr Pindling said he was formally placed under arrest on June 25, 2002, six years after the murder, and questioned by three officers in the presence of his attorney Philip "Brave" Davis.

He said the interrogation was videotaped, but he was not charged.

He also denied knowing convicted drug offender Samuel "Ninety" Knowles.

During his testimony the day before, detective Inspector Clayton Fernander told the court that Newbold told police that he and Mr. Pindling had a meeting on a beach with a man know as Ninety.

Mr. Pindling said he has only seen Knowles in the news and has never had any business transactions with him.

Mr. Pindling also denied that he made arrangements with Newbold to purchase a gun to carry out the crime.

Inspector Fernander had told the court that Newbold told police that Mr. Pindling gave him $1,100 to purchase a gun and a silencer.

Before Mr Pindling testified, murder accused Ashley Newbold made a statement from the prisoner's dock, telling the twelve-member jury that he is innocent, and that police officers fabricated his statement.

Newbold said at no time did he give an interview to police or sign a written statement. He said he believed that the case is a plot against himself and Mr Pindling.

He said right now, he is like everybody else, just speculating about what happened to Ms Cartwright.

Wendy Hall, the sister of the accused, also took the stand this morning, as Newbold's first witness.

The case is scheduled to continue next Wednesday morning.

By Rogan M. Smith, The Bahama Journal

 
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