J'can woman tells grisly story of police abuse and humiliation in UK

J'can woman tells grisly story of police abuse and humiliation in UK


BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, July 11, 2015

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ANN Marie Dallas is a very angry and disappointed woman.

She is angry at the United Kingdom authorities for sending her back to Jamaica five years ago while she was pursuing justice in their courts.

She is disappointed that, despite a spirited battle to become reunited with her common-law husband and two children in Britain, she has received no help from neither the Jamaican High Commission in the UK nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT) in Jamaica.

Dallas was so upset that she travelled to Montego Bay in June, hoping to attract the attention of the ministry and legal experts attending the immigration sessions which formed part of the sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in that city. Despite some assurances from the lawyers present that she had been treated unjustly by the UK immigration authorities, she has returned to Kingston feeling frustrated, but not defeated.

Dallas said that at the conference, she sought the support of the ministry through Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown, but was told that she would have to proceed with a civil action in the UK courts.

The Jamaica Observer spoke to Brown at Gordon House last week, who said that he did not remember the particular case. However, he pointed out that the issue was a civil one, which would have to be taken up by the victim in the courts.

"We do not normally interfere with these issues unless they have to do with some breach of treaty. The problem is that when you tell people that they have to take that approach they don't want to hear that," the junior minister said. However, he said he would try to get in touch with Dallas and discuss the matter.

But Dallas insisted that the Jamaican High Commission in London and the MFAFT in Kingston have let her down.

"I am sure that the Jamaican High Commission is assigned to a foreign country to see to the welfare and the interest of Jamaican citizens living in that country... now, where justice is required, a person must be given legal assistance, if he has no means of his own. Therefore, if a Jamaican citizen is in a problem and needs assistance of a lawyer, because the matter requires justice, the Jamaican authorities have that duty to assist that Jamaican in getting a lawyer to assist them pro bono," she said.

Dallas said that she wrote the MFAFT but did not get a response. She said that she has also been to the ministry, where she was told not to go to the media and that they would seek to deal with the matter diplomatically.

Her troubles started in January 2007 when the UK police arrested and jailed her on what she claimed are false charges. She said that she was charged with possession of and distributing drugs.

"They took me to court and the judge ruled that the case was unfounded. But they kept me in custody for eight-and-a-half months in jail, including six months in solitary confinement and also re-charged me," she said.

"After 11 appearances before five different judges, a judge ruled that there was no case against me. After that ruling, I took out a claim against the lawyers for professional misconduct," she stated.

She said that it was alleged by the police that she was an illegal immigrant. However, she insisted that the matter was not about immigration issues but about her illegal detention by the police and, in any case, she had been granted a stay in the UK.

She said that the judge ordered that the police file a defence against her claim of illegal detention, and that she should have the transcript of the case to take to the higher court. However, she was unable to get the transcript. She went ahead, however, and filed the appeal in 2009 but said that, while walking to the shop with her son one day, the police accosted her, sent her son home and took her into custody.

"They took me to the station, stripped me naked and kept me in the cell all day in Croydon. They stripped me and asked me to bend over, and when I refused they left with my clothes. Then they called in the psychiatrists, claiming that I was crazy. But the doctors said that I did not appear to be out of my mind," she revealed.

Dallas said that three male psychiatrists interviewed her naked, and at the end were convinced that she did not have a problem.

"They asked me if I wanted my clothes, I said 'yes', and one of the police officers came and threw a blanket to me and then slammed the door. But in the night they came back and they charged me with assault, claiming that I stepped on an officer's toe," she stated.

Dallas said that she was taken back to court on September 2, 2009, and was given bail by the judge, but she was again charged with assault by the same police officer and kept in custody, instead of being released on bail.

Dallas related a nightmarish episode of her life in the UK, being moved from prison to prison, allegedly to keep her hidden from the court system.

According to papers filed by her lawyers, between September 22 when she was removed from the London jurisdiction to Scotland and back to London, she was locked up at six different detention centres, including Tinsley House and Yarlswood, and eventually at Holloway Prison in London. She was not returned to court on November 9, 2009 as was required.

In fact, her lawyers learnt that she was kept in solitary confinement all along. After she got in touch with a solicitor through the chaplain of the prison, she was moved back to Tinsley House detention centre, and two days later to Colnbrook detention centre.

On the night of December 22, 2009, she was taken to the airport and placed aboard a flight to Jamaica. She arrived in Jamaica on December 23, 2009. She eventually found that she was sent to Jamaica under a false name.

Since her return, Dallas has been fighting a relentless battle to be allowed to return to London.

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