Lost in custody for 10 years
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The court will decide, in September, if a man, who has spent a decade in custody after allegedly hacking another to death, is mentally capable of standing trial.
A fitness to plead hearing has been scheduled for Frank Montaque. He is accused of killing 22-year-old Richard “Gibbo” Gibbs of Queens Street in Montego Bay in December 2012.
The fitness hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in the St James Circuit Court, but jurors were absent because they had not been instructed to attend court due to an ongoing trial.
The prosecutor then informed the court that the Crown was in possession of two updated psychiatric evaluation reports. The reports are dated December 22, 2023 and January 8, 2024, respectively.
Over the years there have been several cases of individuals with mental illness being lost in the system.
In 2020 the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) spoke of the need for change after details emerged about the death of Noel Chambers who spent 40 years locked up before being placed in a facility at the age of 81.
George Williams, who waited 50 years for a trial before being released in 2020, was also among the seven men whose cases were highlighted in an INDECOM report.
On Wednesday, Montaque’s lawyer, Trevor Ho Lyn, expressed concern over his client’s prolonged detention.
“My client has been in custody since 2013… He was able to plead, but there was a point when he could not,” Ho Lyn said.
After hearing from both the prosecution and the defence, High Court Judge Bertram Morrison rescheduled Montaque’s fitness to plead hearing for September 16 and remanded him in custody.
According to a police report, about 2:30 pm on December 15, 2012, Gibbs was at a shop on Dome Street in Montego Bay when a man armed with a machete attacked and chopped him.
The police were summoned and Gibbs was rushed to Cornwall Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.