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Gov't lawyers accused of stalling in Mario Deane lawsuit

Published:Tuesday | November 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMLivern Barett
Mercia Fraser (right), the mother of Mario Deane, holds a banner depicting her son – with the help of two supporters at Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay, St James – earlier this year.

The attorney representing the mother of Mario Deane has charged that lawyers for the Government have used the delays in the criminal proceedings related to his death in police custody to stall a wrongful-death lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Deane's mother, Mercia Frazer, in 2014, was listed in the Supreme Court yesterday for a default judgement to be entered.

However, Frazer's attorney, Hanna Harris-Barrington revealed that the case was again adjourned, this time, until May 1 next year, even though lawyers for the Government have not filed a defence to the lawsuit.

Among the issues to be ironed out on the next court date, according to Harris-Barrington, is a claim by government attorneys that going ahead with the suit could prejudice the minds of potential jurors in the ongoing criminal cases against three police personnel and three civilians, arising from Deane's death.

"But every time Mario Deane's mother goes to court, the matter is being delayed and adjourned, delayed and adjourned. What about her rights?" Harris-Barrington questioned.

"It [the claim by government lawyers] is a ploy to avoid dealing with the civil matter," the attorney insisted.


Beaten in lock-up


In August 2014, Deane, a 31-year-old construction worker, was detained at the Barnett Street Police lock-up for possession of ganja. According to reports, he was severely beaten inside the lock-up and died at hospital the following day.

Marvin Orr, Adrian Morgan, and Damion Cargill - three of the men who were in custody at the time, have since been arrested and charged with the murder.

In September 2014, following a probe by the Independent Commission of Investigations, a police corporal and two district constables who were on duty at the Barnett Street Police Station were arrested and charged.

Corporal Elaine Stewart has been charged with manslaughter, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and misconduct in public office, while the two district constables, Juliana Clevon and Marlon Grant, have been charged with misconduct in public office.

The trial is set to start on Monday.

Frazer is claiming, in her lawsuit, that police personnel falsely imprisoned her son, wrongly assaulted and beat him or caused him to be assaulted by other prisoners.