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Manchester Parish Court fire causes $35m in damage

Observer writer

Friday, November 08, 2019

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The Jamaica Fire Brigade has estimated the damage to Manchester Parish Court following yesterday morning's fire at $35 million.

Acting Assistant Superintendent Carlton Brown, in an interview, said: “[The] fire was confined to a judge's office and a section of the roof of the courthouse. We received the call [about the fire] at 4:02 am [and] two units responded — one from Mandeville and the other from Christiana [fire stations].”

He said investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the fire.

“We are still carrying out our investigations and we have personnel from Kingston to assist [us with the probe],” he said.

Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell has expressed concern for individuals who currently have cases before the court.

“My major concern is for the litigants because [with] the court's office being closed now, there are matters that may have been going to the parish judges for bail, those persons will now have to spend a longer time in the lock-ups. We are hoping that some measures will be put in place [to address the situation],” he said.

He opted not to comment on the high-profile fraud case involving eight people accused of conspiracy to defraud the former Manchester Parish Council, now municipal corporation, of more than $400 million.

Mayor Mitchell, however, said: “I really don't think at this time that any files pertaining to that particular matter were destroyed by the fire…during the last circuit the matter was being heard in Porus.”

He said plans are advanced for the building of a new courthouse.

“The minister of justice [Delroy Chuck] had asked me to see if I could help [his ministry] to find a location for the new courthouse. They are just about 'tying the knot' with a property, which is close to the centre of the town,” said Mitchell.