Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Baby snatcher a no-show in court

Published:Friday | September 27, 2019 | 12:25 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The St James Circuit Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Melissa Harriot, the St James woman who allegedly stole a baby at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in January. The warrant was issued after she failed to show up in court for her scheduled hearing on Wednesday.

Justice Glen Brown made the order for the warrant after Harriot, who is charged with child-stealing, failed to answer when her case was called up. Harriot’s bail surety also failed to respond when called. The matter has been set for mention on September 30, at which time it is expected that Harriot will be brought before the court, if she is located. The case against Harriot was transferred to the circuit court for trial following a committal hearing in the St James Parish Court on July 3. Wednesday would have been the first trial date for Harriot. During the committal hearing in the parish court, Harriot was offered bail in the sum of J$200,000 with two sureties. Additionally, a stop order was issued to prevent her from leaving the country. Allegations are that at approximately 1:50 p.m. on Friday, January 4, the infant and her mother were visiting the Cornwall Regional Hospital, when the mother was befriended by Harriot. Shortly after, the mother reportedly left the baby in Harriot’s care and went to use the restroom. When the mother returned, both Harriot and the baby were missing. A report was subsequently made to the Mt Salem Police Station. An investigation was launched and two days later, Harriot, her boyfriend, and the child were found in Greens district in Norwood, St James.

Harriot was arrested and later charged, while the child was safely returned to her parents. Under Section 69 of the Offences Against the Person Act, Harriot could face a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment if convicted at trial.