(CMR) Lonny Lee Tibbetts appeared in Summary Court Tuesday morning for what should have been a sentencing hearing for common assault. However, the judge shared that the guilty plea he entered on November 22 requires what is referred to as a “Newton hearing”.
Magistrate Phillipa McFarlane expressed his displeasure at where the case had reached. Giving a brief history of the court proceedings she noted that there should have been some basis of plea submitted to the court before Tuesday's hearing. This essentially meant that there would be further delays in the three-year-old assault case against the former CINICO boss.
She shared with the lawyers, “I'm really unhappy about the way this matter has been conducted since the trial was vacated for a guilty plea that was entered last year.”
On February 2, attorney Dennis Brady appeared in court on behalf of Tibbett's attorney and office colleague, Amelia Fosuhene, who had conduct of another matter at the time. Some miscommunication occurred and the parties did not appreciate the necessity to agree on the basis for the plea agreement.
Magistrate McFarlane shared that when the plea was entered in November it was done so on “the basis for the plea would be ironed out”. However, it appears that was never communicated properly and has not been done. She went on to share that the victim impact report “was at complete variance to what was in the social inquire report,” prompting her to suggest the Newton hearing.
Tibbetts was originally charged with assault causing actual bodily harm (ABH) back in 2019 for what the judge expressed was a “wholly unprovided attack.” However, he entered a plea agreement to the lesser offense. She also noted that the victim was not consulted about the plea agreement beforehand.
The plea was not offered on the full facts presented by the prosecution. Because some key facts of the actual incident might be in dispute the magistrate determined that the most appropriate action would be to have a Newton hearing in March. A Newton hearing is a hearing to determine facts when a defendant has pleaded guilty.
The defense wanted a security guard who witnessed the altercation to be made available.
The parties agreed that a 1 day hearing should be sufficient on March 17.