Sir Frederick ‘Sleepy’ Smith has died at the age of 92.
Sleepy was the first Attorney-General of an independent Barbados, former Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands, president of the Court of Appeal of Grenada, assistant Attorney General of Cameroon and a justice of the Barbados Court of Appeal. Along with his brother, Vernon Smith QC., he founded the legal firm of Smith and Smith. He also worked on revising the Constitution of the Cayman Islands. Sir Frederick was also an author and his book, Dreaming A Nation, is available on Amazon.
In later life, after his retirement, he hosted a radio talk show where members of the public could call in for legal advice. This inevitably led to a run on the services of his former law firm Smith and Smith. He will always be remembered for his selfless service to ordinary people everywhere.
Sleepy was the son of Cecil Gladstone Smith and his wife Lilian Angelique. He went to school at Combermere School and Harrison College and studied law at Gray’s Inn.
Sleepy was a founding member of the Democratic Labour Party and was on its first Provisional General Council and became first party Chairman. He was subsequently elected to the Barbados House of Assembly. In 1966, he became Attorney General and was knighted in 1987.
Sleepy is best known to the foreign press as lead counsel for the Great Train Robber, Ronald Biggs, whom he saved from extradition to the UK when Biggs was kidnapped in Brazil and brought to Barbados. The standing joke was that as Biggs departed Barbados en route back to Brazil in a private jet, celebrating on chicken sandwiches and champagne, the fees of Smith and Smith remained unpaid and have never been paid. But Sleepy didn’t care, then or later.
Bajans of all walks of life will remember and mourn the passing of this, one of our greatest sons. One who never forgot his roots and always spoke his mind with brutal frankness, not a characteristic of politicians, but which, with his laconic style, instilled calm, trust and confidence in all. BU often recalls the incident when Sleepy, in a major address, said, “It appears to me that judges in Barbados think they have a constitutional right to be stupid.” When later a colleague asked him how he could have said such a thing, the reply was typical. “Wait, did I lie?” asked a genuinely perplexed Sleepy.
Requiescat in Pace, Sleepy.