Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday has expressed “great” concern about what transpired at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Jan. 5, when former model, Yugge Farrell was sent for two weeks of psychiatric evaluation.
Friday, a lawyer, said he was concerned that the model was asked to plea, and then the prosecution made an application for her to be sent to the Mental Health Centre.
“This is an unusual procedure because having pleaded, usually it’s the other way around because someone who is not capable of pleading will be sent for an assessment,” Friday said of the development, which has incensed a large section of the Vincentian population.
Farrell was arraigned on a charge that on Jan. 4, at Kingstown, she used abusive language, to wit, “you dirty bitch” to Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, wife of Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves.
The accused woman, who is 22 years old, did not display any untoward behaviour in court, neither did the prosecution offer any evidence to support its application.
Magistrate Bertie Pompey committed the woman to the psychiatric hospital, despite strong protest by her lawyer, Grant Connell.
Friday said the procedure is one that raises “serious questions” about, whether Farrell’s rights were violated and to what extent she was not allowed the benefit of the normal proceedings that are adopted in court.
The opposition leader said he leaves the legal aspects of the case to be determined by Farrell’s counsel and those persons who are going to address it later.
He said that Sen. Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, an opposition lawmaker, has spoken on the matter in her capacity as a lawyer.
He said people should not read Bacchus-Baptiste’s comment as being a political statement.
“This is something they have to now deal with with the counsel who is going to represent her going forward.”
Friday said that the press reports are that no reports were presented to the court regarding Farrell’s ability to plea and then having been asked to plea, the matter of her sanity was raised.
“That is very unusual. For those persons who practice in this area of law, whom I have consulted, they have said it is very unusual.”
He said a person has a fundamental right to defend himself or herself in court and to be presented with the information the Crown has against them.
“Otherwise, that can happen to you… You could go into court one day and somebody pick you up and say, well, listen, you are going to the mental institution because somebody has information that you are not aware of that can commit you… That would not be consistent with our constitutional rights,” Friday said.