The High Court will on December 17 deliver its judgment in a lawsuit brought against Guardian Media Ltd and one of its journalists by Member of Parliament for Laventille East/Morvant Adrian Leonce and his wife over an article published in 2018.
That article came just over one month after Leonce’s wife, Karen-Lee Bethelmy Leonce, suffered injuries to her face while at home on August 30, and had to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Their claim against the media house and journalist Renuka Singh is that the article sought to suggest that the MP was in some way responsible for the injuries.
But this was furthest from the truth, they both testified before Justice Frank Seepersad yesterday.
Instead, the injury suffered by Karen-Lee was due to a fall at her home.
Leonce was not even at home at the time but after being informed via a telephone call from a daughter, he soon arrived at the location and rushed his wife to hospital.
In all, six witnesses were called to testify against the media house and Singh.
They were Minister in the Ministry of Works Foster Cummings, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy, Leonce, his wife, their daughter Abia Leonce, and family friend Vanessa Beharry.
Singh testified in defence of herself and Guardian Media.
During the hearing, Beharry testified that on the night in question, she and Karen-Lee had just returned to the Leonce household from “getting something to eat”. When they arrived, Beharry said she (Beharry) went to use the bathroom. While doing so she heard a frantic scream and then found Karen-Lee lying face-down on the ground, unconscious and bleeding.
The MP was then contacted and, when he arrived, placed his wife in one of their vehicles and took her to hospital.
‘MP not a wife beater
Karen-Lee corroborated that version of events, pointing out she was “infuriated” by the article since it had the effect of suggesting to readers her husband was a violent person and “a wife beater”.
She pointed out in the 19 years they had been married, and several more years together as a couple, Leonce had never showed any violent tendencies.
In her defence, Singh testified that during the course of her investigation, she was contacted by and met with sources at the Mt Hope Hospital who said they did not believe the woman had received the injuries in any “car accident” but, instead, it appeared the injuries were purposely inflicted by another person.
As part of the investigation, Leonce was also contacted and interviewed by the journalist, the court heard.
The MP was made aware of the rumours by Singh, but he insisted his wife suffered the injuries after falling at their home.
Appearing on behalf of the media house and Singh are attorneys Marc Campbell and Andre Rudder, while attorneys Colvin Blaize and Farai Hove Masaisai appear on behalf of the couple.