'Professional bailers'

Justice ministry exploring legislation to formalise practice

Observer staff reporter

Friday, August 10, 2018

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Justice Minister Delroy Chuck yesterday indicated that consideration is being given to regularising 'bailer men', making them a recognised group of professionals.

Relatives of accused individuals often rely on the services of people who are termed bailer men when they do not have the collateral and relevant documentation to secure bail for their loved ones.

“I can tell you that my Legal Reform Unit is working on legislation, because I think we have to look at the idea of professional bailer men; in other words, make it professional because some of them are professionals. But then... to be a professional bailer man, they would need to have the necessary infrastructure, the necessary persons who can bring in the guarantors, so many of them may have to be working with a security company or with a number of security personnel who can identify persons who give guarantee, or persons who can find the accused if they fail to come in,” Chuck said after he toured the Court of Appeal in downtown Kingston yesterday, where refurbishing work is under way.

He was responding to a Jamaica Observer query as to whether there are mechanisms in place to identify individuals who use fictitious documents to bail accused persons.

Though the ministry is looking at regularising bailer men, they are oftentimes frowned upon by the courts, because individuals who offer their services sometimes use fictitious documents to secure bail.

Since the start of the year, a number of individuals have been brought before the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court for using fictitious documents to bail accused individuals.

In May, professional bailer man James Bailey, who used the name Kenneth Walker and secured bail for an accused murderer in that name, was sentenced to two years in prison.

Bailey was arrested and charged last September when Devon Harriott, whom he had bailed in the sum of $300,000, absconded.

Harriott was on trial in the Home Circuit Court with co-accused Oshane Coley and Michael Jacobs for the gun murder of Craig Lewis in December 2009.

The men were sentenced to life imprisonment in their absence.

At the time Bailey was arrested, he was in the process of bailing another individual. He was subsequently remanded and charged after he was unable to pay the $300,000 bail for Harriott.

It was also discovered that the documents Bailey had presented to act as surety for Harriott had been falsified.

Yesterday, Chuck said, in other countries, bailer men are formalised.

“I think we might as well formalise it because it is happening. We are actively considering the introduction of professional bailers.

“Those bailer men now who bail persons and they abscond, sorry for the bailer man, he has to pay up the money. There is nothing we can do. He has lost his guarantee, so that is what is happening. Provisions will be in place in those cases to ensure that they have adequate collateral, that in the event that they fail to bring in the accused, that funds can be confiscated or forfeited,” he explained.

A court source, who spoke to the Observer on condition of anonymity yesterday, said that the minister's consideration is a good move, as long as it can be proven that the bailer men are legitimate and that the assets belong to them.

However, the source explained that some bailer men are dishonest.

“They go to the court office or police station to do bail when they know they are not who they say they are. Some of them use forged documents, pretending that the document is authentic. The address that they give is oftentimes a cemetery or an open lot. When the police go to find them, they can't find them. They steal people's land title; when the bailiff goes to collect bond, is innocent people,” the source said, adding that the Government is losing revenue from this practice.

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