Thu | Nov 30, 2023

Sept 25 for Qahal Yahweh member sentencing

Published:Saturday | September 16, 2023 | 12:08 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


One of 14 people before the St James Parish Court following the June 30 police raid at the Qahal Yahweh religious compound in Montego Bay, St James, is booked to be sentenced on September 25.

Neil Spence, who has pleaded guilty to assault and whose matter is being heard separately from the other 13 defendants, previously had his sentencing hearing put off to Friday when he last appeared in court last month.

But when Spence’s case was called up before presiding judge Sasha-Marie Ashley on Friday, his attorney, Adrian Dayes, indicated that he had not received full disclosure of documents from the prosecution,

“When I came here, I indicated that I wanted the opportunity to have the disclosure, to read the reports, and to take proper instructions. I was not in the matter at the time he made the relevant decision,” Dayes explained.

As a result, Judge Ashley extended Spence’s bail to September 25.

“Your attorney needs to be in a position to speak to me about you, and he is not, because he has to be given the statements, so that will be done by September 25,” Ashley explained to Spence.


Meanwhile, the other 13 defendants – Rebecca Gallimore, Christopher Anderson, Nekeisha Harding, Derrick Clarke, Roanalee Maitland, Alicia Meadley, Fabian Nelson, Franchain Paris, Jodian Spence, Jose Foskin, Oral Spence, Rayon Letman and Ingrid Williams – had their bails extended to November 10 after the court was told that several documents had not yet been added to the case file.

The defendants, who are all represented by Peter Champagnie, KC, are charged with breaches of the Child Care and Protection Act. They have all pleaded not guilty.

On June 30, twenty members of the religious group were detained in a joint special operation by the security forces at their Paradise Avenue compound in Montego Bay. The raid was in response to reports of assault and child abuse at the location.

Prior to that operation, 23 children were removed from the compound on June 7 by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency. The children, ages one to 17 years, were placed in state care.