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Foreman gives wrong verdict for human trafficking accused

Published:Friday | May 1, 2015 | 5:00 AMBarbara Gayle

There was confusion in the Home Circuit Court yesterday when the foreman of the jury was asked to give the verdict in relation to one of three persons charged with trafficking in persons.

The foreman first said that the jury had found businesswoman Hermalinda Parker not guilty of the charge.

However, one of the jurors blurted out that it was not the correct verdict. The foreman, after further consultation, gave the correct decision that there was a divided verdict.

"This type of error happens from time to time and it is time jurors are given the opportunity to record and sign their verdicts so that there will be no

further mistakes," a policeman remarked.

The policeman suggested that when the jurors return from their deliberations, then the document with the verdict should be handed to the clerk, who would then announce the verdict.

"If one of the jurors had remained silent, then the wrong verdict would have been given," the policeman said.

Retrial ordered

A retrial has been ordered for Parker and her husband, Anthony, both of whom are accused of human trafficking.

They have been remanded to return to court on May 6, when bail applications will be made for them.

Lyn Scantlebury, daughter of Hermalinda Parker, who faced trial with the couple, was freed of the charge.

Justice Jennifer Straw presided over the trial which lasted for seven weeks.

The jury deliberated for more than five hours before handing down the verdict.

forced to work

The Crown, represented by prosecutors Lisa Palmer Hamilton, Adley Duncan and Gavin Stewart, led evidence that young girls were recruited from abroad and were forced to work at the Latin Movement Nightclub at the Dunrobin Plaza in St Andrew. Hermalinda Parker and her husband were the registered owners of the nighclub.

The complainants did not return for the trial and so the statements were tendered in evidence. The Crown could only proceed with one of the charges.

The three were charged with two counts of trafficking in persons, two counts of conspiracy to commit trafficking in persons and two counts of withholding travel documents.

Following no-case submissions made by defense lawyers Christopher Townsend and Kaysian Kennedy, who represented Hermalinda Parker, and Nadine Atkinson Flowers, who along with Queen's Counsel George Soutar represented Scantlebury and Anthony Parker, five of the charges were withdrawn.

Straw directed the jury to return formal verdicts of not guilty in respect of those charges.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com