Cops give conflicting testimonies in kidnapping case
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
TWO POLICE witnesses in the well-publicised Mount Alvernia Preparatory School kidnapping case gave conflicting testimonies in response to allegations of police intimidation when the preliminary examination resumed in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
Charged in connection with the May 3, 2011 abduction of a three-year-old male student is 23-year-old cabinetmaker Jonathan Mitchell of Spaulding, Manchester; 22-year-old barber Trevon Tomlinson of Cornwall Courts, Montego Bay; 26-year-old counsellor Jenise Regisford of Bloomfield, Connecticut, USA, and Cornwall Courts, Montego Bay; and a 16-year-old boy of Paradise, Montego Bay.
Superintendent Derrick Cham-pagnie, crime officer for St James at the time, testified that, after investigations led to Regisford's arrest; she gave him information that led to the capture of the other three accused during a random spot check in Coral Gardens, St James.
"I, along with a team of police personnel, proceeded to the Holiday Village along the Coral Gardens main road. I proceeded to ask the three men some questions in respect to the matter I was investigating," Superintendent Champagnie testified.
"When a specific question was asked, Mr Tomlinson began to answer and I immediately stopped and cautioned him. He responded by saying, 'Officer, we tek the baby to Spaulding, Manchester, and left him at 'Clevaugn' people dem house,' and he pointed to Mitchell," he continued.
The child was reportedly taken while waiting to be picked up at school by his parents. He was later found unharmed and the four accused, along with two other individuals, were arrested and charged.
The officer said the three men were taken to the Montego Freeport Police Station, from where a police team was guided by Mitchell to Baileston, Manchester where the abducted child was found at a house.
"At what point did you decide Mitchell was a suspect?" asked Petrona Wallock, Mitchell's defence lawyer, during cross-examination.
"Based on what Tomlinson said to me at Holiday Village, I began to view him (Mitchell) as a suspect," answered Superintendent Champagnie.
"Did you observe members of your team pointing guns at my client and the other men? Did members of your team threaten to kill the men if they were not forthcoming with information?" asked Wallock.
"No, that never took place," answered Superintendent Champagnie.
But Detective Corporal Durvel Alexander of the Montego Bay Police Station testified that, when he took Tomlinson's caution statement on May 4, the accused man spoke of force being used against Mitchell by the police personnel.
"While taking the statement from Mr Tomlinson, I learnt that force was used by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force against Mr Mitchell," Alexander said under cross-examination.
"Is it that it was alleged, or that you became aware?" Resident Magistrate Wilson Smith asked for clarity.
"During the caution statement, I can recall that Mr Tomlinson said that," Alexander maintained.
"Do you recall Tomlinson saying that 'Clevaugn' (Mitchell) was beaten?" Wallock asked.
"Yes, he said that," replied Alexander.
Judge Smith set the case for further examination on July 4, at which time the investigating officer is expected to give testimony.