Defendants place meals reportedly not fit for dogs on trial
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes received a resounding thank you from the hungry group of accused One Don gangsters yesterday after his intervention yielded news that they will be allowed to consume food prepared by relatives starting today.
The accused, who are on trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston, had triggered a halt in the proceedings of the evening session after complaining that they were not being allowed to consume food brought by their relatives, adding that not even dogs would be interested in the state-provided meals they were being served in a white crate and placed on the floor.
The defendants lamented that other detainees with matters before the courts were being allowed to receive even KFC meals, adding that with the stigma surrounding their case and because they had expressed their displeasure with the food on several occasions, they were being denied the opportunity to accept food from relatives.
Attorney Walter Melbourne told the court that his client, Romaine Elleston, had ended up visiting the medical facility after consuming the state-provided meals on the last three occasions.
The accused also mentioned vomiting spells due to the unpalatable meals.
Alleged gang leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan also launched a verbal protest, saying that he, too, was being served meals he “cannot stomach”.
Noting that the issue was grave, Skyes said that defendants should be fed proper meals.
“Once you are in custody, you are the State’s responsibility … so we have to sort that out,” the judge said.
Six of the 33 accused, including Bryan, said that they did not eat meat, while others indicated special dietary requests to as a result of medication prescribed by their doctors.
The lone female among the accused, Stephanie Christie, said that a policewoman had blocked her attempts to collect food from her relatives and had also stood between other accused trying to receive meals from outside.
“This morning I came and I asked … if I could get food today, and she say, no she not collecting any food for me. So I don’t eat in the mornings,” she told the court. “By time they come for me, breakfast don’t ready, and by time I reach down, the prison already lock down … . There is nothing that can come down; not even hot water.”
The accused told the court that the female inspector in question also blocked the efforts of other cops who were willing to collect food for them.
“When we tell her say we a go tell you (judge), she tell we say you nuh run station,” one of the accused men said.
Sykes had seemed prepared to adjourn the sitting earlier than planned, but the accused expressed that they would wish for the trial to proceed as they just wanted the judge to be aware of the matter.
“We can hol’ it til a mawnin. Did just want yuh know, Your Honour,” one of the accused said.
Sykes said that it appeared to be a sort of “enforced fasting” on the accused, which the defendants complained has been prolonged since the start of trial.
A senior policewoman, who addressed the court on the issue, said that the prisoners were rejecting the meals provided.
“A substantial amount is provided, but they won’t take it ... ,” she said, noting that after making a call, she was told to allow them to accept meals from outside, starting today.
As their meals would now be searched, the one-hour lunch break will now be extended by half an hour.
“We’ll see how that works for the rest of the week,” Sykes said.
Bryan and 32 other alleged gang members are being tried on an indictment with 25 counts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act and the Firearms Act.