Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Re-enlistment limbo - Former cop accused of having ties with alleged gangster still waiting on JCF re-entry go-ahead

Published:Wednesday | July 20, 2016 | 7:00 AMLivern Barrett

A former police constable who was accused by her superiors of having close ties with a reputed St James gangster is waiting to hear whether she will be allowed to re-enlist in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Keisha Pessoa-Sinclair's five-year contract with the JCF ended in August 2013, the same time she was informed that her application for re-enlistment had not been approved by then Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.

Court documents included in a judicial review requested by Pessoa-Sinclair revealed that Ellington's decision was based on concerns about her character.

Among the documents was a notice addressed to Pessoa-Sinclair by her then commanding officer at the St Ann Police Division, Senior Superintendent Egbert Parkins, containing allegations that she had "formed a relationship" with Omar Lewis, an alleged St James gang leader more popularly known as 'King Evil'.

"While assigned to the Saint James Division, you formed a relationship with Omar Lewis, o/c 'King Evil', an alleged notorious criminal and gang leader from Canterbury,

St James, who has been linked to several crimes such as murder, robbery with aggravation, and shooting with intent," read a section of the notice.

It also alleged that the constable smuggled a cell phone and other contraband to Lewis while he was in custody at the Freeport Police Station.

"On June 2, 2006, when Lewis was granted bail, you reportedly left your post while on duty and accompanied Lewis in a 2000 Toyota Corolla motor car ... from the Freeport Police Station compound," the notice alleged.

"There are serious concerns regarding your integrity and character, which have impacted negatively on the image of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The Jamaica Constabulary Force has, therefore, lost confidence in your ability to serve the citizenry of Jamaica with professionalism and integrity," the notice continued.

 

REQUEST TO CONFRONT ACCUSERS

 

The court documents indicated that Pessoa-Sinclair wrote to her commanding officer on August 13, 2013, refuting "several of the grounds" listed in the notice and requested a hearing with Ellington so she could "confront her accusers".

The judicial review ended in April when a High Court judge quashed Ellington's decision not to approve Pessoa-Sinclair's application for re-enlistment.

Justice Marcia Dunbar-Green declared, in her ruling, that there was a "procedural flaw" with a hearing Ellington convened with the former constable in January 2014 to discuss her application.

"Reasonable notice should have been given so that the applicant [Pessoa-Sinclair] would have had time to consider her position and prepare her case, and her legal representative be given an opportunity to present it," Dunbar-Green said.

As a result, Dunbar-Green directed that the application should be sent to the commissioner of police and that Pessoa-Sinclair should be given a fresh hearing "with reasonable notice and an opportunity for legal representation ... in accordance with the findings of this court".

Yesterday, attorney-at-law Oswest Senior-Smith, who is representing the former constable, revealed that his client has since met Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams and other senior members of the JCF and was informed that she has to take a polygraph test before being considered for re-enlistment.

"She agreed, under protest, to do the polygraph ... ," said Senior-Smith, who said his client was still waiting to hear whether she will be allowed to return to the force.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com