UPDATE: Woman who abandoned fraud trial in Kingston located in Florida
Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer
The woman who disappeared from the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court midway her fraud trial last Thursday is now in the United States, immigration authorities and her attorney have confirmed.
Checks by the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency revealed that Winsome McFarlane left the island at 8 o’clock Thursday evening on a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As a result, Parish Judge Simone Wolfe Reece this morning ordered that the warrant issued for McFarlane’s arrest should proceed.
Wolfe Reece also insisted that McFarlane’s trial will continue on Thursday in her absence.
"Miss McFarlane has absented herself. I am proceeding with the trial," the judge said during a brief hearing in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.
The woman's attorney, Carleen McFarlane (no relation) tried to persuade the judge to have the warrant stayed, explaining that she has been informed that her client is hospitalised in Florida.
The attorney said residents informed her that an MRI examination revealed that her client had "some physical impairment".
Carleen McFarlane said she did not want to get into the details of her client’s condition because of press coverage of the incident.
However, she said after landing in Florida her client was in the airport disoriented for three days before she was admitted to a hospital for treatment.
The attorney conceded that her client made a wrong decision to leave, but argued that it was reasonable under the circumstances.
However, in ordering that the warrant proceed, the Parish Judge said she has to balance the equation.
Winsome McFarlane, who is believed to be the owner of Pampano Pharmacy located in St Ann, is jointly charged with Heleen Thoms.
They have each been charged with forgery, uttering forged documents, obtaining money by false pretences and conspiracy.
The allegations, according to Wright, are that they defrauded the National Health Fund of over $600,000.