The Criminal High Court was packed on Friday September 24 despite the non-functioning air conditioning. Family members and friends of Sergeant Sixtus Stephen Brette gathered along with his colleagues of the Crown Prosectution Unit and the Royal St Lucia Police Force. Well wishers, included former Deputy of Public Prosecutions Robert Innocent, President of the Bar Association Andie George and high-ranking officials from the police force who were sent to represent Commissioner Vernon Francois who was called off island for the day.
Brette is the second police prosecutor to be called to the Bar in St Lucia. The first is now Crown Counsel Giovanni James who was called to the Bar in August 2009.
Speaking to the STAR, Brette was elated and relieved. After spending eighteen years on the force, Brette had to endure numerous financial struggles to achieve his long time goal.
Brette first attended the St Aloysius RC Boys Primary School and then moved up to St Mary’s College. He fell seriously ill in his fourth year at the institution which caused him to repeat his fourth year and graduate in 1986. From 1986 to 1987, Brette was employed as a receptionist at a hotel called Couples. From 1987 to 1988, Brette waited out his call to the Royal St Lucia Police Force at his aunt’s boutique near Police Headquarters. He was recruited on June 1, 1988 and trained for six months at the then Police Training School and graduated in November that year. His first assignment was at Beat and Patrol then he served at the Anse La Raye Police Station, Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Central, back to Anse La Raye, then Gros Islet CID and Traffic and finally at CID. While vacationing in 2000, then Inspector Frances Henry recommended him to be a police prosecutor. He returned from his vacation as a corporal and continued his career.
Brette had been trying to pursue a law degree since 1994, however due to financial constraints, his dream was not realized until 2001 when his maternal uncles offered some help. Brette attended Holborn College in England from 2001 to 2004. He was supposed to return to England the following year to study for the Bar. Unfortunately, the school sent his recommendations late and the bank he was dealing with changed its policy therefore he could not secure a loan. All through this, the University of Northumbria had accepted his application and kept deferring his entry year after year until 2009 when he was finally able to return to England to complete his studies. As Brette tells it, had it not been for Magistrate Sharon Gardner and her family, he would probably not be in the position he is today.
Magistrate Gardner spoke at Brette’s call and expressed the utmost confidence in his abilities given his exceptional track record as a police prosecutor. Justice Kenneth Benjamin gave words of encouragement to the newest member of the Bar saying Brette has an upper hand on the novice lawyers because he knows the courtroom and its procedures inside out. Benjamin went further to reveal he has great expectations for Brette.
Coming from a single parent family, Brette has not had an easy road, especially being the fifth of six siblings. He joined the police force for two reasons; for one because he always had aspirations to be a lawyer and he believed a career as a cop would help him achieve his goals and because he felt it was his duty to get a job to help his mom care for the family. Brette expressed his gratitude to James who paved the way for him.
“I was in constant contact with James throughout my studies and he gave me advice and kept me motivated. I think one of the most important things he said to me was ‘camp out at the library’ and that’s just what I did. I had no social life. James reminded me why I was there and I knew what I had gone through to get to England so I was just not about to let it all go to waste.”
Brette is hoping to break new ground in St Lucia. He wants to be the first serving police officer to be a Crown Counsel. There are provisions in Barbados for such however in St Lucia there is no existing legislation to support it. Ideally, Brette wants to continue the next two years as a police officer and then retire, making the move into a full fledged legal eagle.
He offered his thoughts to the STAR: “I wish the powers that be would invest, not only in the police force but in police officers. Over the years, police officers have been serving their country to the best of their abilities and provisions should be made to assist them in bettering themselves through further education. We are dealing with a new breed of criminals and our police officers need to be equipped to handle them. Education is power and I believe police officers need to be given opportunities to further their studies to be able to face the challenges of the job today.”