News

Real estate developer denied bail again

By Tanesha Mundle

Thursday, July 17, 2014    

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REAL estate developer Christopher Kerr was again denied bail yesterday when he appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court after efforts to ascertain his true identity proved futile.

Magistrate Kaysha Grant rejected Kerr's bail application, reasoning that despite the fact that he is a successful businessman she could not offer him bail as he goes by different names, had no fixed place of abode and had not surrendered his passports to the police.

The real estate developer was taken into custody on July 1 after police alleged that he was using two different identities -- the one given at birth, Donovan Watson Kerr, and Christopher Donovan Watson-Kerr, a name he said he assumed officially by doing a deed poll.

Last Friday, Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey, who first denied Kerr bail, said that he could not legally change his surname by way of deed poll.

He is alleged to have obtained three passports, two tax registration numbers, two driver's licences and four birth certificates in the name Christopher Watson-Kerr and was subsequently charged with four counts of uttering forged documents and two counts of forgery.

On Monday, when Kerr appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court to renew his bail application, the process was put on hold after the magistrate suggested to his lawyer, Hugh Wildman, that his client consent to a question and answer session to clear up the issue of his identity before a determination is made regarding his freedom.

But yesterday when the matter was revisited, the prosecutor told the court that they were still uncertain about the accused man's real identity, in light of the fact that he had multiple identification documents with different names.

Prosecutor Nigel Parkes reiterated that Kerr was a flight risk and that he is a Canadian citizen with a United States visa. He also told the court that the accused is a trained and certified pilot who is the owner or co-owner of a Cessna aircraft.

Further to that, Parkes said that the crown is uncertain about Kerr's address. He explained that Kerr told the police during the Q&A session that he owns four houses, one which he co-owns with a woman, two which he uses for business purposes and the other which is owned by another person.

Parkes said the accused also told the police that he owns two TRNs in two separate names, one in his birth name and the other in his assumed name and also that there was an error on his US visa which had the name Donovan Waton Kerr, instead of Watson Kerr.

Wildman, however, maintained that his client was not a flight risk as he had significant investment in the country and currently has an apartment complex which is 90 per cent complete, and is awaiting Kerr's release to finalise its completion and the sale.

He also told the court that his client needed to do surgery on his dislocated shoulder, and produced a new medical report which indicated that his client should have undergone surgery within two weeks after the incident.

But RM Grant told him the date had passed. However, Wildman informed her that his client was unable to do the surgery because he was incarcerated.

Wildman, in pleading for bail, told the court that his client was a well-known and successful businessman and that the case was "much ado nothing". He said the prosecutor had no case again his client.

The defence lawyer added that several errors were made by the different agencies when his client tried to change over his birth certificate and passport in his new name.

According to Wildman, the correct name of his client is not hyphenated and is simply Christopher Donovan Watson Kerr.

"Why keep this man in custody when there are persons with more serious charges who have been granted bail?" Wildman questioned. "Why would this well-known businessman, with all his investment in Jamaica, run away?"

His pleas, however, fell on deaf ears.

Kerr is to be tried on August 12.

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