Guild president hopes UWI accused faces wrath of justice system
More charges are in store for Matthew Hyde, the 20-year-old University of the West Indies (UWI) student accused of locking away his 19-year-old girlfriend in his room and torturing her with a clothes iron.
Hyde, of Braemar Avenue, Kingston 5, has so far been charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.
Head of the St Andrew Central police, Senior Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth, told The Gleaner that more charges are expected this week.
The family is reportedly seeking to retain King’s Counsel Peter Champagnie to represent the accused.
The police believe the 19-year-old woman was held captive for at least three days in Hyde’s room at George Alleyne Hall on the Mona campus, during which she was allegedly “tortured” with a clothes iron “and other stuff”. She was discovered sometime after 10 p.m. on February 9.
Police investigators are reportedly probing allegations that the victim was accused by Hyde of infidelity the day before he locked her in his room.
Describing the incident as disturbing, UWI Mona Guild of Students President Omolora Wilson is hopeful that the accused will receive “the full wrath of what they’re supposed to meet in the justice system” if convicted.
“My concern is genuinely in the justice system to ensure that this matter is handled well,” she said in a Gleaner interview.
Wilson contends that the incident is symptomatic of the increase in gender-based violence at the university, which she views as a microcosm of the wider society.
“It’s now being brought to light in the university that it actually happens here, too. And what I like to think is that our young women are becoming more open and aware in expressing these matters, hence the increase of formal reports for domestic violence and gender-based violence within the university space,” she said.
Director of Campus Security Norman Heywood told The Gleaner that there have been few reported cases of domestic violence on the university grounds in recent years.
In 2021, his office received two domestic violence reports. There were three in 2022.
Boarding on campus had been scaled down as many classes moved online in 2020 with the pandemic. All halls of residence were reopened in summer 2022.
The Hyde case is the first one reported this year, he said.
Heywood acknowledged, however, that some cases remain unreported.
“Not that there couldn’t be cases that are occurring under the radar, because domestic violence is usually covered up between two parties, and people sometimes are ashamed to report,” he said.
Heywood urged students not to be fearful but to be vigilant and inform campus security of any concerns.
“I think students need to be more concerned and caring for each other and look out for each other, and when you have a doubt as to the safety of your colleague, then you could escalate it to us and then we will do the necessary checks,” he said.
Meanwhile, The UWI, in a statement, said the 19-year-old student has received medical attention and it had made arrangements for counselling support.
Counselling was also extended to students on the hall where the incident occurred.
Disciplinary action is reportedly also being pursued against the accused.
Various groups, including the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Generation 2000, and the JLP’s women’s caucus, expressed alarm at the incident.
The women’s group called for harsher penalties for gender-based violence.
Students who reside on the hall say they are still in shock at the incident.
“It seems so unreal to me. Thankfully, it didn’t happen on my flat because I would feel very guilty knowing that it was happening right on my flat and I wasn’t aware,” a female student, who requested anonymity, told The Gleaner.
A second-year banking and finance major said he is still in disbelief and reiterated that domestic violence is a major issue on campus.
“I haven’t had any first-hand experience with domestic violence on campus because if I had seen it, I would have reported it, but I’ve heard stories,” he said.
Another student, who gave her name as Michaela, was perplexed as to how the female student was held captive for three days without no one being aware. According to her, the walls on the hall “are very thin”.
A Barbadian second-year student says he intends to create systems of staying in touch with his friends.
“It made me think about just having a better way to check up on people and vice versa. I’ll just ask my friend if I was not online on my phone for a few days, to check,” he said.