Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Charges dropped in Travolta case

Charges against two people accused of trying to extort money from John Travolta were dropped

Charges against two people accused of trying to extort money from John Travolta after the death of his son in the Bahamas have been dropped by a judge.

A judge in Nassau dismissed the charges after the prosecutor said the Pulp Fiction star no longer wanted to pursue the case.

Prosecutor Neil Braithwaite had submitted a motion to drop the case after a jury had already been picked and a retrial scheduled for the defendants.

"The Travolta family has said that this matter has caused them unbelievable stress and pain and they wish to put this whole thing behind them," Braithwaite said.

Ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and his lawyer, politician Pleasant Bridgewater, were accused of threatening to release private information about the death in January 2009 of Travolta's son Jett, 16. Lightbourne, who was among the medics who treated Jett, allegedly sought 25 million dollars from the actor with the assistance of Bridgewater.

A judge declared a mistrial in October after a Bahamian politician suggested the still-deliberating jury had acquitted one of the suspects.

Travolta had testified during that trial and one of his lawyers said in October that he'd been prepared to testify again if necessary. But the actor has now said the delay in prosecuting the case prompted his decision not to take the stand again. "The long-pending status of this matter continued to take a heavy emotional toll on my family, causing us to conclude that it was finally time to put this matter behind us," he said.

The defendants had mixed reactions to the dismissal. Bridgewater said: "I'm just happy to be free and put this all behind me." But Lightbourne said he wanted a trial to prove his innocence, saying: "I wanted to have my name cleared."

Jett Travolta died of a seizure during a family holiday in the Bahamas.

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