Angelo Laurence, Gleaner Writer
Angry residents outside the Mandeville Courthouse yesterday. - PHOTOS BY NORMAN GRINDLEY/DEPUTY CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
PLACARD-BEARING DEMONSTRATORS stormed the entrance of the Mandeville Courthouse in Manchester yesterday, calling for justice for the two employees of Super Plus Food Store, in the town who were allegedly beaten by general manager Jeremy Chen and four supervisors.
The accused men are facing charges of assault, kidnapping and illegal
possession of a firearm.
They have been identified as Rayan Lindo, Jeremy Chen, Garth Fagon, Fabion Foster and Ainsley Henry. They have been remanded in custody until February 8.
The Mandeville police, who are investigating the incident, told The Gleaner that Michael Sinclair, 18, of a Knockpatrick address, and 20-year-old Ranaldo Dawes, of New Green district, both in the parish, were taken to a house on Rose Dale Drive where Mr. Chen resides. They alleged that the men had been beaten with an axe handle and a shovel, after they were accused of having knowledge of stolen liquor valued at less than $5,000.
The two were treated at the Mandeville Hospital for damaged bones and injuries to arms, head and other parts of their bodies.
When the five accused were taken to court, the large crowd shouted obscenities and called for the Super Plus store to be destroyed. However, a strong detachment of police was guarding the three Super Plus stores in the parish and a wholesale branch in the town, which were all closed.
When attorney-at-law Norman Godfrey, who represented the accused, made representation for the men to be granted bail, a heated debate ensued between Resident Magistrate Marva Bishop and the attorney. The RM made it clear that she was in no mood to grant bail to the accused men, as there were additional charges yet to be lodged against them.
She indicated that given the situation, there was the possibility that the men may flee the country. She also questioned why Mr. Chen, at whose residence the alleged beatings took place, was not slapped with additional charges, as he was said to be present while the beatings took place.
Mr. Godfrey insisted that those were not sufficient reasons for not granting bail but the RM ordered the men's finger prints be taken and that they be remanded in custody. She also ordered the police to get the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) involved in the case as it was a serious matter and there was room for additional charges to be made against the accused.
Yesterday, Wayne Chen, CEO of Super Plus Food Stores, described the alleged beatings as "unfortunate and regrettable". In a statement, he said: "Super Plus Food Stores, as standard policy, treats with utmost importance, the welfare and well-being of its employees. The organisation does not condone, encourage or engage in any form of abuse of its employees."
Mr. Chen promised that Super Plus would cooperate fully with the police to ensure the swift resolution of the matter. He added: "Super Plus Food Stores has a long history of excellent employee/management relations. Depending on the outcome of these investigations, Super Plus Food Stores will do what is necessary to ensure that its substantial record of employee development and welfare is maintained."