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Former police commandant found guilty on sex charge

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator ?henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 05, 2012    

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HAROLD Crooks, a former commandant of the Island Special Constabulary Force, was yesterday convicted on two counts of indecent assault on a minor. He will be sentenced on July 20.

The 72-year-old Crooks, however, was acquitted of the charge of carnal abuse. The verdict came a week after the trial started last Wednesday in the St Catherine Circuit Court.

The jury accepted that Crooks had had sex with the teen in 2009 after she turned 16 -- the age of consent. The prosecution had been contending that the act occurred a month before the girl's 16th birthday, along with the indecent assault.

On March 17, 2010, Crooks left the island a day before he was scheduled to be interviewed at the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse in relation to the allegations. He later telephoned his then attorney Vincent Wellesley to say that he would not return to Jamaica to face trial because he had no faith in the justice system.

"He said that he is innocent, but that he has no faith in the justice system and he is not coming back," Wellesley told the Jamaica Observer then. "He said he is an old man and that if he is convicted, he will die in prison."

Crooks was arrested after jumping off a cruise ship in Ocho Rios, St Ann, when he returned to the island.

During the trial, Crooks testified in his own defence that he and the teenager had sex after her 16th birthday. He said they had met at his house on Labour Day in May 2009.

He was represented by attorneys Barry Frankson and Jodian Hammitt.

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