Sat | Sep 30, 2023

No sign Jean-Ann Panton suffered stroke, doc tells court

SSL fraud accused makes claim in second push for bail

Published:Thursday | April 20, 2023 | 1:09 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter

A medical doctor who has examined accused fraudster Jean-Ann Panton testified on Wednesday that despite her claims, he saw nothing to indicate that she suffered a stroke while in custody.

Dr Jermaine Whyte, a sessional medical officer employed to the Department of Correctional Services, also gave evidence in court on Wednesday that there was no record to indicate that Panton had any episodes of seizure at the South Camp Road penal facility, where she is being housed.

Panton, a former wealth advisor at the fraud-hit investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), claimed in a new affidavit filed on Wednesday to support a renewed bail application that she suffered a stroke and at least two seizures since her application for bail was refused by a High Court judge in late February.

The previous bail application was refused by High Court judge Lorna Shelly Williams, who cited the seriousness of the offences, the absence of medical report in support for health complaints, and the fact that investigations were ongoing.

Based on legal precedence, a renewed application for bail after the initial refusal by a court of concurrent jurisdiction must show new circumstances or material changes in the circumstances of the accused, explained Justice Vinette Graham Allen, who is hearing the second bail application.

In his submissions, Panton’s attorney, Sylvester Hemmings, asserted that following Panton’s “stroke” and “several” episodes of seizure, the medical staff at the penal institution took the view that her condition was “very serious” and would require medical investigation.

“Where is the evidence of that?” Justice Graham Allen interjected.

The attorney, in his response, pointed to a section of Panton’s affidavit in which she claimed that a decision was taken by the prison medical team to conduct a brain scan to determine the cause of the “stroke” and “seizures”.

Claiming that a seizure was not congenital, he argued that it was an indicator of a “very serious problem”.

“Her health needs to be safeguarded. As it stands now, she is getting worse from her injuries and chronic illnesses,” Hemmings said.

Prosecutor Channa Ormsby conceded that Panton’s assertion that she suffered a stroke would represent new information being placed before the court as contemplated by legal precedence, but Whyte and other prison officials were on standby to interrogate the claim.

According to the medical officer, Panton reported on February 28 that she suffered a seizure and that she was not feeling well.

She indicated, too, that she had prior seizure events dating back to September last year when she underwent surgery, the doctor said.

Whyte said he decided to do a formal assessment because the seizure event was not witnessed by a member of the medical team and the accused was not having one at the time.

He noted, too, that seizure events are recorded by a medical orderly on charts that are included in a patient’s records.

“To date, there is no record of any recognisable seizure activity,” the medical doctor testified.

“Have you had any reports of Miss Panton suffering a stroke?” Ormsby asked.

“No, Ma’am,” Whyte responded, insisting that he saw no paralysis or “anything that would indicate a stroke”.

Whyte will be cross-examined by Panton’s attorney when the hearing resumes today.

Other prison officials are also expected to give evidence.

Panton is facing a 22-count indictment charging her with forgery, larceny as a servant, and engaging in a transaction involving criminal property.

Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt reportedly lost US$12 million or approximately J$2 billion in the alleged fraud scheme uncovered at the firm.