By Kenton X. Chance
High Court judge Justice Cottle says it is an indictment on the justice system that a man has been in custody at His Majesty’s Prisons for 15 years without his case being reviewed by the court.
He said at High Court No. 1 on Tuesday that it is “a very bad indictment on our system, on ourselves” that a citizen was treated in that way.
The judge said that the court will ensure that the man’s matter is reviewed regularly.
Justice Cottle was speaking in relation to Raybert Charles, a criminally insane man in his late 50s, who has been in custody for over 40 years.
He had previously been housed at the Mental Health Centre in Glen. However, in 2008, Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle ordered that Charles be housed in a secure unit at His Majesty’s Prison (HMP).
Since then, Charles’ matter has not been reviewed by the court.
It is not clear how Charles’ matter came up for review on Tuesday.
However, when it was called, Crown Counsel Maria Jackson-Richards, asked that it be stood down, telling the court that she needed to get more information and take instructions from her seniors.
When the matter was recalled, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Karim Nelson appeared for the Crown.
He told the court that he had been able to get some information, but not all of the information required.
The crown counsel told the court that in Nov. 14, 2008, Justice Bruce-Lyle made an order “essentially to move Mr. Charles from the mental health facility so that he can be in more secure confinement at Her Majesty’s Prisons”.
Nelson quoted the order as saying that Charles, “being a criminal person of unsound mind, continuously poses a dangerous threat to the lives of the doctors and the other patients” at Mental Health Centre.
The order said that Charles’ sentence is varied in accordance with the conditions set out in the order.
Justice Bruce-Lyle ordered that he be discharged from the Mental Health Centre forthwith and transferred with immediate effect to a secured unit of HMP, until Her Majesty’s pleasure be known.
The order said that the medical officer shall keep Charles “under special observation, ensure that he receives all the requisite medication necessary for his treatment and take such steps as he considers proper for his segregation from the general prison population”.
Nelson told the court that the information he had received, which he would seek to verify, is that Charles had killed someone at the Mental Health Centre.
The crown counsel made an application to the court that the 2008 order be varied to bring it in line with constitutional requirements by replacing “until Her Majesty’s pleasure be known” with “until the Court’s pleasure be known”.
Nelson further asked that the matter be kept on the list and the Crown be allowed an opportunity to get further information and maybe a psychiatric report and review.
The judge granted the application and varied the order and listed the matter for review on receipt of the psychiatric report.
Justice Cottle then said that a citizen cannot be sitting in custody without their case being reviewed at regular intervals.
Nelson said he did not know if that was the case when Justice Cottle was a prosecutor, but there was a time when at the beginning and closing of every assizes all of the people who were in prison and were not sentenced were brought to court and their matters called up so that the court would have some review of what was taking place.
Justice Cottle said it is difficult to bring all such people to court at the same time, adding that their matters are now reviewed in batches.
Addressing a jury which has been empanelled for an unrelated trial and was present during the hearing, the judge said that the state has the obligation to check on people in custody from time to time.
“In the case of Mr. Charles, no checks had been made on him since 2008,” he said.
Since then, iWitness News was able to contact one of Charles’ close relatives who confirmed that he has been nationalised for around four decades.
The relative said that Charles presented mental health issues after while he was a student about to go to form 4.
The relative said that Charles got involved in Rastafarianism and began smoking marijuana and spending a lot of time in the mountains.
The relatives said there were speculations that his mental health issues resulted from poor diet while smoking marijuana.
After he became mentally ill, Charles was warded at the Mental Health Centre, where he killed an elderly patient, the relative told iWitness News.
The relative said that Charles was really sick at that time and also attacked doctors and nurses.
The relative, however, said that Charles is a lot calmer now.
Meanwhile, a well-placed source told iWitness News that after a number of years as a patient at the Mental Health Centre, Charles was given a certain level of freedom and would be allowed to leave the facility to go to the shops.
“But someone and him had a run-in and he may have reacted aggressively and the person asked that he be taken to Her Majesty’s Prison.
“I know he has been trying over the years to get a hearing from the Mercy Committee but he has been in custody for a very, very long time,” the source told iWitness News.
So mean to tell me this man time is bein burn in jail while you Mr waste of time Nelson go fine out what wrong
He is not the only one
Kenton please note that Raybert was a brilliant student until he got mixed up with the wrong company
This is natural justice and procedural fairness Vincy style. The law must not only be done but must be seen to be done, Regina v Sussex.
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