Tue | Jan 26, 2021

No squatters - Court orders illegal occupants to vacate Westmoreland property

Published:Monday | June 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Gleaner Writer

Westmoreland squatters occupying sections of an 867-acre property owned by John and Kathleen Eugster have lost the right to remain on the land following Friday's ruling by High Court Justice Cressencia Brown Byfield, who set aside a stay of possession that was secured by Daly Thwaites and Company on behalf of the squatters.

This was in response to the recovery of possession that was ordered by Justice Ingrid Mangatal in a 2011 judgement.

Yesterday, attorney-at-law Ayisha Robb Cunningham, representing the Eugsters, explained Friday's ruling.

"The judge's ruling means that the application for a stay is set aside and Justice Ingrid Mangatal's ruling in 2011 for the Eugsters remains in effect. Costs have also been awarded to the Eugsters," she told The Gleaner.

Mangatal's 2011 ruling had said, inter alia, that squatters had no right to claim ownership of lands they occupy for years without any compensation to the 'registered' owner. The judge's ruling was in the case of 37 'claimants' who challenged the right of the Eugsters to demolish their houses, and evict them for illegal occupation of their beachfront property.

"So once again justice has prevailed. The process of the courts was long, but we can say the system works," Robb Cunningham declared. She said that the Eugsters would be moving to take possession of the property.

"The good thing is that we have an order from the court and the order of the court stands, and citizens of this country ought to respect the ruling of the court. No one is above the law. People need to bear in mind that we live in country of law and not of lawlessness," she stated.

Reacting to yesterday's ruling, Member of Parliament Dr Wykeham McNeill said that discussions were under way with Government for a resolution of the situation, which has already seen the violent deaths of John Eugster and one of the squatters' spokesperson since the commencement of court action.

Attorney-at-law Ronald Thwaites could not be contacted yesterday.