By Matthew Thomas
Under the Ralph Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration, “Justice is never seen to be done”. Like so many before, the on-going Yugge Farrell saga has raised the question in the minds of too many: Where is justice?
The sequence of events is that in less than 24 hours of the alleged offence, 23-year-old Yugge Farrell was brought before Magistrate, Bertie Pompey, on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, charged that on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, she went to the work place of Karen Duncan Gonsalves, Senior Counsel in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, causing a breach of the peace by referring to Mrs. Duncan-Gonsalves as a “dirty b***h”. Duncan-Gonsalves is the wife of Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance. Camillo Gonsalves is the son of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of Legal Affairs.
Speaking on several interactive radio programmes, Prime Minister Gonsalves is alleged to have suggested that Yugge Farrell is crazy and that she had gone to his daughter-in-law’s office to deliver a blackmail letter, containing a lot of nasty things. The contents of the letter were not made public.
Among other things, PM Gonsalves is reported to have said:
- He has advised his son, Camillo, to maintain a “dignified silence” and
- “The Magistrate can decide to commit someone to the psychiatric hospital based on information that the prosecutors give to the magistrate outside of the court proceedings and which is not disclosed to either the defendant or her lawyer.”
At her arraignment on Jan. 5, 2018, Miss Farrell, who is being represented by lawyer Grant Connell, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Without any supporting evidence or any visible sign of misbehaviour by Miss Farrell, the prosecuting officer, Police Constable, Corlene Samuel requested that Miss Farrell be sent to the mental hospital for observation. Amidst strong objections from the defendant’s lawyer, the magistrate, nonetheless, ordered that Miss Farrell be admitted to the mental hospital for a period of 17 days to return to court on the Jan. 22, 2018. Miss Farrell left the court under heavy police guard and was so guarded during her stay at the mental hospital.
On Jan. 22, when Miss Farrell was taken to court, she was met by a different jurist, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, who, with the support of a medical report, recommitted Miss Farrell to the Mental Health Hospital for a further seven days. On returning to court on Jan. 29, Miss Farrell was met with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Collin Williams, as the prosecuting officer and an addition to her defence team, QC Andrew Pilgrim from Barbados. According to the Searchlight of 30/01/2018, a new medical report advised that Miss Farrell be discharged from the Hospital and receive outpatient care instead.
When defence counsel raised the question of bail, the DPP, Collin Williams said: “If the magistrate wishes to give bail and terms are set, I think we can all be happy that the matter is to be addressed in terms of treatment.” Burnett obliged with the request saying: “I am minded to grant the defendant bail in the sum of $1,000 with one surety and to adjourn this matter to the Dec. 17, 2018.” (Searchlight, 30/01/2018)
What was not brought before the court is that Yugge, 21 years, Camillo Gonsalves’ junior, has alleged that she has had an extramarital relationship with him that ended in 2016. To date, Camillo has not responded to Yugge’s claim, even amidst calls from various sectors of the Vincentian community, among them, the Leader of Opposition and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
Among the many questions right-minded people are asking are:
- If charged in less than 24 hours of committing a crime, how then can she be held responsible if she is pronounced to be crazy?
- Why was the 17-day incarceration decided by the magistrate without the support of psychiatric evidence?
- It is well known in medical circles that improperly administered psychoactive medication can produce signs of abnormal behaviour. Was the incarceration intended to satisfy the argument that she is crazy?
- Was it necessary for the DPP to be prosecuting at the magisterial level, an act that is arguably unprecedented?
- To have a 23-year-old unemployed woman with an 11-month suspended criminal charge hanging over her head; what else can we expect to produce but a total schizophrenic?
Jan. 4, 2018 is exactly 10 years to the date that a female police officer accused Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of sexually molesting her. The record shows that she complained to her superiors, nothing was done. She brought a private criminal law suit against the Prime Minister. The DPP, Colin Williams, intervened and entered a nolle prosequi. Over the past 16 years, PM Gonsalves has brought and won several defamatory lawsuits against individuals and a radio station. None has gone for trial and he never appeared once inside a witness box.
In 2006, an 11-year-old boy, classmate of one of PM Gonsalves’ daughters, pulled a prank by writing her a letter. The boy was suspended and later transferred. The following day, between 6 and 7 a.m., five policemen ransacked his home.
No one is claiming that Camillo Gonsalves is guilty of the claim of an extra marital relationship with Yugge Farrell but as Minister of Finance, he is obligated to clear his name. Having said nothing after one month is totally disrespectful and contemptuous of the Vincentian citizenry.
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