Thu | Nov 21, 2019

Files damaged in Manchester court fire

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 12:50 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Firefighters outside the Manchester Parish Court yesterday morning.
Firefighters outside the Manchester Parish Court yesterday morning.

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

The fate of matters before the Manchester Parish Court could be seriously hampered as a significant number of case files were damaged during the cooling-down operations after an early morning fire on Thursday that razed a section of the building.

Dozens of persons who turned up for maintenance court were left in shock when they met upon a cordon and were told that they would have to return on Thursday, December 5.

An acting assistant superintendent at the Mandeville Fire Station said a call was received at approximately 4 a.m. and two units – one from Mandeville and another from Christiana –responded. Firefighters confined the blaze to one room, a judge’s chambers. The estimated cost of the damage is $35 million.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

With the major Manchester Municipal Corporation multimillion-dollar fraud trial currently ongoing, a court officer has revealed that the matter would not be affected as those files would have been with prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The matter can be heard at the Porus Court.

Custos Garfield Green told The Gleaner that he and justice ministry officials were visiting locations where court proceedings might be held temporarily. A decision is expected by weekend.

“We had several issues with the building before, and now with this fire, it is seriously compromised. The wooden floors are no good, and so though the Judge’s Chambers is the only area completely burnt out, other sections of the building are under water from the cooling-down operations,” said a court worker who requested anonymity. “A lot of files have been damaged, both current and those that would have been disposed of.”

Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell said land has already been identified for the rebuilding of the courthouse.

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