KERN Spencer, the former junior energy minister on trial stemming from the Cuban light bulb scandal, may have to find a new guarantor for his $10 million bail following Wednesday’s arrest of his surety, businessman Patrick Roberts. Spencer stands to lose his bail when he appears in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court today as Roberts’ arrest renders him ineligible to continue acting as surety, as he now has a criminal charge pending against him, according to section 21 of the Bail Act.
But Patrick Atkinson, Spencer’s attorney, said yesterday that the court may decide not to interfere with his client’s bail while he seeks another surety. “Mr Spencer has been reliably coming to court and the magistrate will take that into consideration,” Atkinson told the Observer. Roberts, 45, the People’s National Party caretaker for the West Central St Andrew constituency, was arrested and charged after his licensed .38 Taurus revolver was allegedly recovered from a man who reportedly engaged the police in a shoot-out using the weapon.
The alleged shoot-out occurred on January 20 this year. Yesterday, Roberts’ lawyer, Valerie Neita-Robertson, said he was charged with illegal possession of firearm. Roberts reportedly told the police in an interview last month that he was not aware of the disappearance of the weapon. He is scheduled to appear in the High Court Division of the Gun Court today.
Roberts, who is a lay magistrate, was granted $300,000 station bail following his arrest, his lawyer said. Spencer, along with his former personal assistant, Coleen Wright, were arrested in February 2008 for their role in the distribution of four million energy-saving light bulbs, a gift from the Cuban Government that ended up costing Jamaican taxpayers several million dollars. Both accused are due back in court today when Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey will decide whether or not to throw out the case against them.