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Prison won't help Fray, says attorney

Published:Tuesday | June 21, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

The appeal of convicted hijacker Stephen Fray began yesterday with Queen's Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown arguing that, based on the medical evidence, Fray should have been found guilty by reason of insanity.

Fray was convicted in October 2009 of attempting to hijack a Canadian-bound aircraft. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.

He was convicted on eight counts including illegal possession of a firearm, shooting with intent, robbery with aggravation, assault at common law, and breaches of the Airports Act arising from the attempted hijacking of the CanJet aircraft at the Sangster International Airport on April 19, 2009.

Fray is now serving his sentence at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, but Samuels-Brown said yesterday that when Fray committed the offence, he was suffering from a mental illness as understood in Jamaican law, specifically the Mental Health Act. She said a sentence of 20 years in a prison facility such as that which exists in Jamaica would not help Fray or the society at large. She said the psychiatrists who testified at the trial spoke of other facilities available through government programmes and that option ought to have been explored.

Samuels-Brown argued that the judge said Dr Wendel Abel and Dr Kevin Goulbourne, the psychiatrists who examined Fray, gave conflicting evidence. She said the judge misinterpreted the evidence because the doctors did not contradict each other as they both said Fray was suffering from mental illness at the time of the incident.

grossly psychotic

Samuels-Brown noted that Abel said when he examined Fray six days after the incident, he determined that he was grossly psychotic and his mental state was abnormal at the time of the offence. She said Goulbourne conceded under cross-examination that based on his interviews with Fray, he would have been suffering under schizophrenic delusion at the time of the incident.

Fray had said that voices told him to commit the offence.

The plane, which had more than 160 passengers on-board at the time, was scheduled to depart for Cuba en route to Halifax, Canada.

Following Fray's conviction, his father, Earl Fray, was charged with negligence in relation to the firearm and was found guilty. He was given a suspended sentence.