Rage over bail
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson is furious that the court has granted bail to three of four members of a group of suspected kidnappers accused of abducting a prominent St Ann businessman.
A clearly furious Nelson told
yesterday that he has discussed the matter with Justice Minister and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne in the hope that she would have a serious talk with Chief Justice Zaila McCalla.
"I am very upset," declared Nelson in reference to last week's decision by the court to offer bail.
"The court has given them the opportunity to go out and intimidate the victims," fumed the national security minister. "Kidnapping is akin to acts of terrorism, to which bail should not be granted."
The High Court division of the Gun Court in Kingston offered bail to Trevor-Lyn Rowe, a 44-year-old businessman of High Mountain in Bog Walk, St Catherine, in the amount of $5 million, while Aldane Jackson, 39, of Steer Town, St Ann, was granted bail in the amount of $2.5 million.
A bail application for the third accused, Andrew Dillion, a resident of De La Vega City, Spanish Town, was denied.
The fourth accused, 27-year-old Nickesha White, was granted $150,000 bail in a previous court hearing.
The case against the four will again be mentioned on February 22.
Rowe and Dillion are charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap, extortion and illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.
Jackson is charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap.
White, of Pineapple Court in St Ann, is charged with conspiracy to kidnap.
The four accused were held last month by the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) for their alleged involvement in a kidnapping ring, believed to have organised the January 14 kidnapping of the St Ann businessman.
"It is frustrating to the police to work so hard to apprehend these persons, then have the court send them back on the streets to frustrate their investigations," said Nelson.
The national security minister stressed that last week's court decision underscores the urgency of the need to re-examine the Bail Act.
The proposed amendments to the Bail Act were advanced by the Government in 2009 as part of changes to six companion measures to bring the fight to criminals, but were stalled because of objections from the parliamentary Opposition and human-rights lobbyists.
The Government plans to extend the time that persons apprehended for serious crimes would mandatorily stay behind bars before they are eligible for bail.
The kidnappers had demanded $500,000 for the release of the businessman. The money was paid over but the police said only a portion had been recovered.
But while the Nelson has sought to defend the investigators probing kidnapping cases, Supreme Court judge Leighton Pusey appeared sorely displeased with the work of the police a week earlier.
Pusey chastised the police for what he characterised as their failure to sew together a coherent case.
"I can't believe that a police department, which is supposed to do serious investigations, can't put a coherent case before the court," the judge said.
Pusey pointed out that the Crown was not able, at this stage, to provide details about the involvement of each accused.
It has been alleged that on January 13, a woman approached the complainant, who operates a locksmith business in St Ann, and asked him to unlock a motor-car door. While he was walking towards the car, a man brandished a gun and ordered him into the vehicle.
The four allegedly blindfolded the man and took him to a location where he was held for several days. A demand was made for a ransom of $5 million.
The police set up a sting operation in which one of the alleged kidnappers was held. Further investigations led to the arrests of the other three accused.
The four were among 11 suspected kidnappers to be nabbed last month.
At the time, the police said that two women were among the 11 who had been nabbed on reasonable suspicion of being part of a kidnapping ring.
Head of the OCID, Superintendent Fitz Bailey, told
that three of the eight suspects in the kidnapping ring are from Bog Walk and Spanish Town in St Catherine; three are from Trelawny; and two from St Ann.
Like Nelson, Bailey had high praise for the St Ann police who, he said, apprehended the three suspected of kidnapping the businessman from the parish and helped break the back of the kidnapping network operating in several areas.
"We are of the view that the persons we now have in custody for the St Ann kidnapping might be involved in other kidnappings as well," he told
three weeks ago.
Late last week, another young kidnapped victim was released, but it is unclear whether the ransom demands were met.
editorial noted on Saturday that authorities have been expressing concern that kidnapping is a growing and lucrative part of the business model of Jamaican criminals.
These cases, and the growing problem of kidnapping, have largely escaped the public's attention because the police tend to ask the media not to report the incidents for fear that publicity might complicate negotiations with the kidnappers and threaten the safety of victims.
The editorial also notes that the more important reason, perhaps, is that families tend not to report cases until they have either paid the ransom or it becomes clear that they cannot resolve the matter on their own.