News

State starts paying girls injured in Armadale fire

BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordinator – Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 08, 2014    

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THE State has started to make payment to the girls injured as a result of a fire at Armadale Juvenile Correctional Facility in St Ann, in May 2009.

This is according to Althea Jarrett, the director of litigation in the Attorney General's chambers.

At the same time, Jarrett told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the State will be settling with the estates of the seven girls who lost their lives in the blaze.

"We are not questioning the fact that the girls died or that they died in the fire," Jarrett said. "The issue would be how much [their estates] would get. We haven't resiled from our position."

Only three claims have been filed so far for the estate of the girl who died, said Jarrett, who declined to go into detail about the matter because the issue is yet to be fully resolved.

The seven girls who were housed in what are classified as office dorms were killed in a fire that swept the building on May 22, 2009. Several others were injured.

The tragedy sparked national outrage and resulted in an enquiry that saw the resignation of June Spence-Jarrett, then commissioner of corrections. The report of the enquiry that came in 2006 also saw blame being placed at the feet of two police officers.

Aside from the girls injured and those who died, some 20 girls who were being held in a section of the premises called cottage dorm, which wasn't affected by the blaze, filed suit against the State, claiming that they had suffered because of the conditions under which they were held.

The suits were filed on the girls' behalf by the Office of the Children's Advocate.

"No girl from the cottage dorm, as far as we know, was burnt or hurt from the fire," Jarrett said.

Yesterday, the case of the girls from cottage dorm was called up in the Supreme Court but was put off for trial on October 26, 2015 as not all the relevant documents were filed in the matter.

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