SPARKS FLY AS JUDGE ADJOURNS VISA FRAUD TRIAL
Angelique Blin arriving for her original Royal Court trial in June with defense counsel Advocate Peter Ferbrache. This trial was halted whilst she was confined to the island's Castle psychiatric hospital for tests and treatment (Photo credit Steve Sarre of the Guernsey Press)
A fraud case before the Royal Court in Guernsey was further adjourned after the prosecution complained of being "bounced" with a psychiatric report on the defendant, the report only being submitted one hour before the case opened, despite being ordered by the presiding judge six weeks ago.
Angelique Blin, who trades as Overseas Angels, is facing seven counts of fraud with alternative charges of seven counts of theft in place. These relate to complaints that Blin offered services as a visa agent, taking money of foreign applicants for visas/work permits to the UK, and not doing the required work.
The hearing on Monday before Judge Russell Finch and 9 jurats (jury) was supposed to be the end of a series of delays into Blin's fraud trial, which began when her defense team sprang the question of mental competency before the court in June when the original trial was supposed to have been started.
That original trial was adjourned, and at a hearing a couple of days later the judge ruled that Blin should be held at the island's psychiatric clinic while she underwent evaluation after conflicting reports by the prosecution and defense. After disagreements between prosecution and defense on the interpretation of the report produced for the court by the clinic's psychiatrist, it was agreed that an independent forensic psychiatrist, agreed to by defense and prosecution, would be ordered to conduct examinations and submit a report and placed before Monday's hearing.
Fiona Russell who is prosecuting for the Crown complained to the court that the Crown was being "bounced" with the latest psychiatric report only being submitted one hour before the hearing.
This brought an instant response from Advocate Peter Ferbrache, Blin's defense lawyer, who angrily demanded that Fiona Russell explain herself and that if she thought that he had done something improper in relation to the latest report by Dr Pamela Walters, she should come straight out with it.
Fiona Russell countered this by saying she was not accusing anyone of wrongdoing, merely pointing out that her comment was an observation, and that as prosecutor she was unable, given the short time of one hour, to give input on factual information at such short notice. She also said she had been unable to speak to the person who compiled the report adding "I have only had the report for just over one hour, I have not had the chance to speak to the person who made it (Dr Walters), and I am being expected to address the court on matters of law that I am not familiar with". She also stated that it would be unfair to Ms Blin.
Peter Ferbrache said the doctor's report was very clear and that any delay would not help his client's medical condition.
At this presiding Judge Russell Finch intervened to calm things down and saying "It is the lesser of two evils and it is only right to give the prosecution time to consider the report", announced that there would be a further hearing on 22nd November.
The judge also stated that if the court did decide that the defendant was unfit to plead, it would then have to decide what to do with Blin. He ordered defense and prosecution to submit skeleton arguments on that point before the next court hearing.
Blin was then granted conditional bail and the court was adjourned.
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