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Living in hell!

Woman claims life of distress following report against police

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 27, 2014    

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MOUNT MORIAH, St Ann — A St Ann woman is begging for assistance, following a series of incidents which she said happened to her after she reported a policeman to his colleagues several years ago.

Paula Gayle, a visually-impaired resident of this community, said that the dramatic events, which she described as distressing, started eight years ago when she decided to provide the police with information regarding certain illegal activities that she was aware of.

According to Gayle, who is also known as 'Carol' and 'Fatty', following that report, which yielded no success, she faced abuse from both law enforcers and civilians. When the abuse became "excruciating", the woman said that she filed a report against the police, which, to her, was a "life changer", as since doing that, her life has been agonising.

"Mi a go through hell," the 49-year-old told the Jamaica Observer.

The woman said that she reported the matter to all organisations which she thought would have been able to assist, but there has been no improvement in her situation.

Gayle, who was a vendor before the incident, said that the misfortunes in her life started when the police made her the subject of an investigation after she filed her report.

Soon after, criminals stole her car and several items from her house.

The car was found in St Elizabeth, leading her to believe that it was stolen as part of efforts to get her to leave the area.

"November of the same year I got a stroke in my eyes. Whenever my blood pressure is high or low, it affects my vision," she said.

Gayle said that her problems did not end there, as two years later, being confined to her home by the numerous circumstances, she was raped and abused in her house.

A policeman was among three persons present at her home on the day of the rape and she believes that he may be linked to the incident.

Gayle said that her house was broken into several times and the man who sexually abused her returned there on many occasions. On one occasion she said, window panes were removed by the perpetrator to gain access to the house. She said that the matter was reported to the police, who took the panes to swab for evidence and she has still not got them back, making life even more miserable for her when it rains, as the place is often saturated with water.

"All now mi no hear anything 'bout it," Gayle said.

The woman said that she believes her report to the police about the illegal activities she had encountered led to her car being stolen and her being raped.

Although at first she was embarrassed to report the matter, Gayle said that she filed a report, but instead of her life being better, she was, according to her, "terrorised".

"Once you make a report about a police them terrorise you," Gayle stated.

According to her, since the report was made, police continually invade her house without explanation. She said that she was forced to stay home and was not allowed any visitors.

The woman, who formerly travelled and sold items of clothing, said that she was prevented from continuing that activity by the police.

According to her, she asked to be placed in the Witness Protection Programme, but was told by a woman who worked in the Public Defender's Office that it was not possible.

"She say government no have money to put everybody on witness protection who make report against the police," Gayle said.

Lamenting that her life has been made a misery, with nothing done to assist her, or getting her matter before the courts, Gayle said that she is even more distraught that the man who sexually abused her is still at large and roams the community.

"I reported the matters to INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigations), the police commissioner's office, the Public Defender, Jamaicans For Justice and another human rights organisation. Some people ask why I do not move from where I live. I told them on each occasion that I have nowhere to go," Gayle said.

After not working for years, she said that all her financial resources have dwindled and she is now in need of help.

Being visually impaired and unemployed, Gayle is now depending on the Poor Relief Department to help her as she has been given notice to leave the house where she has been living all these years.

When the Sunday Observer spoke to a representative of the Poor Relief Department regarding housing for Gayle, it was revealed that the organisation was indeed trying to assist her, but was encountering financial challenges.

An officer at INDECOM said that there could have been several reasons for Gayle's case not reaching far, among them the lack of proper identification of the policeman involved.

For its part, an official at the Public Defender's Office promised to check the organisation's records to see if anything was documented regarding the matter.

Camille Lee, attorney with Jamaican For Justice, confirmed that Gayle did approach the organisation for assistance.

While saying that she was not able to disclose information, Lee said that JFJ "did quite a bit" for Gayle.

"We offered Ms Gayle a significant amount of assistance," was all she was prepared to say on the delicate matter.

Head of the St Ann Police, Senior Superintendent Yvonne Martin-Daley said that she did not have the specifics of Gayle's matter, and asked that Gayle speak with her.

However, Gayle said that she has spent large sums of money going as far as Kingston to report the matter and did not have the money to do more travelling.

"I am in desperate need of assistance. As a result of what the police are doing, I can no longer get money to buy food and pay my bills. Many nights I have to go to my bed hungry. The police are constantly abusing me verbally, physically and mentally," Gayle said.

"Dem mash up mi business. Wa mi a go through, a nuff people a go through it. Dem terrorise witness," she charged.

Gayle said that people who have witnessed what she has gone through have marvelled that she is still alive.

"People look on me and say mi strong," she said, adding, "Dem mash up mi life; Dem mash mi up.".

The woman said she spend all the money she had travelling to the different organisations to seek help. She said that she has receipts to prove that she visited some of the places.

She confessed that the entire ordeal has left her stressed and desperate for help.

"I was suicidal," she admitted, recalling when she was raped. She also revealed her embarrassment, as many folk in her village classified her as "boasy and show off". Gayle said that to add insult to her injury, following the rape, many people, including the police, said she was mentally ill. However, doctors have said otherwise.

"Mi say doctor tell mi the truth. The doctor say 'Ms Gayle, there is nothing wrong with you,'" she told the Sunday Observer.

The woman said that she has been through enough and is willing to give permission to unlock her files in various medical institutions to prove that she has not lied about the abuse she has been through.

Gayle said that while she was not in the Witness Protection Programme, the police were often in her home. She said that during those times, several items were destroyed.

She recalled being at the doctor and a policeman offered to take her home, but instead left her on the street. The woman said that that was only one of several such incidents when her safety was compromised by the action of law enforcers.

Gayle said that community members had also been adding to her misery and that the police do not help.

"Mi nah get no justification from the police," she said.

One such incident, she said, was when she was attacked by dogs. After the attack, the investigator failed to do some of the necessary work and has claimed that the owner of the dogs had since left the community. She said that she was again attacked by the same group of dogs only recently.

"Police officers constantly invaded my home ... they cut up my mattress and settee and destroyed my appliances and other things in my house. At no point did they tell me what they were searching for," she told the Sunday Observer.

Gayle said that several items had been stolen from her home and others destroyed. The roof of the house, she claims, was also destroyed resulting in it leaking when it rains.

She said that she has the name of several persons whom she claims are involved in the abuse that she has faced.

Gayle also said that after she reported being raped, the police tried to downplay the incident and claimed that she was involved with the alleged rapist. However, Gayle said community members did not believe, based on her lifestyle before.

Gayle said that the police then told persons that she "hallucinated the rape" and that she was "mad".

She revealed that she was hospitalised on several occasions due to the abuse.

Even taxi operators, she said, had refused to carry her many times, forcing her to walk, which oftentimes result in her falling into ditches due to her vision problem.

Gayle said that the situation eased only when an officer from INDECOM came in to start investigations. However, no one has been charged.

She said that if she does not accomplish anything else in going public with her story, she wants to prove to all that she has never suffered from any mental illness as the police have suggested. She said that although she was traumatised after being raped, she was never treated for any form of mental illness.

"Mi no have no form a mental illness. Doctor never give mi a tablet, not even for depression," she stated.

She said that she is seriously offended by suggestions that she is mentally ill and what she considers a plot to have her institutionalised.

She admitted that officers from INDECOM even took her to doctors, only to be told that she was not ill.

"No doctor no treat me fi madness," she insisted, admitting that she knew some of the doctors and nurses who have treated her, as she once sold items to them.

Gayle, who said at one time she weighed 240 pounds, has since slipped to around 100 pounds because of all that she has gone through.

"Mi never know that mi collar bone coulda have hole inna it. From mi report the rape, mi under constant 'antagonisation'. Dem cut up mi mattress, destroy me food and the police trying in every way to put mi on my face.

"Mi life completely mash up fi nothing. Mi just mek up mi mind fi dead, but if me a go dead, me a go dead trying fi mek things better," she said.

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