A WOMAN COP'S AGONY
Sergeant locked up for almost 18 months on forgery charge repeatedly denied bailSunday, April 25, 2021
BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
THE sisters of Sergeant Duliet McKay, who has been locked up for over a year awaiting trial, are growing impatient and frustrated with the court for refusing to grant her bail.
They have also questioned whether her continued detention is being influenced by an elected official whom, they said, had publicly promised to make an example of her.
The sergeant, who served the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for over 30 years, was charged in July 2019 with uttering a forged document, following a ruling from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn.
McKay was brought before the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on July 22, 2019, where she was offered bail in the sum of $200,000 to return to court on September 19, 2019.
However, on October 26, 2019, her sisters said her world turned “upside down”.
“A hearing was scheduled for her to appear before the resident magistrate court for a mention. Believing in her innocence and the justice system, she drove herself to the Half-Way-Tree Court that morning only to learn that the case was transferred to the Supreme Court. She again drove herself downtown to the court. After this point, Duliet's world was turned upside down. The judge revoked her bail, not because of any breach, and she has been remanded in custody since then,” Alecia McKay-Ellis said.
Sergeant McKay is being held at South Camp Adult Correctional Centre.
McKay-Ellis, who has been the spokesperson for the sergeant's family, told the Jamaica Observer that the basis for objecting to bail, she was told, was that there was no bail condition that could manage the risk associated with an offence for forgery.
But McKay-Ellis argued that her sister's travel documents and cellphone were confiscated and she was instructed to report weekly to the police station in her area, so she is puzzled by her continued detention.
“We cannot understand how she could be a flight risk when she cooperated in every way possible with the authorities. We must reiterate that she drove herself to court on both occasions. Everything since that day has been a nightmare. There is confusion, heartache, anger, deception from the court system and simply put — injustice,” McKay-Ellis said.
Besides, McKay-Ellis said, despite several bail applications made by her sister's attorney month after month, she continues to be denied bail each time she appears in court. This detention has caused her sister to miss her father's funeral and to not be able to properly care for her son nor her personal health.
“Her father died while she is in custody and the court refused to allow her to go to the funeral, even after providing proof of the death as they requested. We have also brought to the court's attention her medical condition. She is severely hypertensive and it is uncontrolled. She is at extreme risk for a cardiovascular event, which could cause significant damage, maiming or death. Because of her underlying medical condition she faces severe increased risk of contracting COVID-19,” McKay-Ellis said.
“Her doctor even went to court to testify on her behalf and the court refused to hear from him. It is also to be noted that Duliet did not make any prior arrangements for her affairs or the well-being of her then 15-year-old son who was left at school at the time she was taken into custody. She drove herself to court over a year and five months ago, parked her car in the parking lot and has not been home since.”
Further, McKay-Ellis said she, alongside her other two sisters — Charmming McKay-Avery and Marion McKay-Robinson — are extremely worried, frustrated, angry and confused, and believe their sister will not have a fair trial.
“Individuals who have been charged with murder and other serious crimes are given bail while awaiting trial. There are also several cases that are published in the media of persons, specifically lawyers including a husband and wife who have been charged for the same allegations and are out on bail, even one being charged for allegedly forging a judge's signature.
“We have also seen where prominent elected officials charged with fraud involving multiple millions of taxpayers' dollars are out on bail awaiting trial, and the list goes on, yet she cannot get bail. It would seem that she has been convicted before the trial has even started. Are we to believe that there are two types of justice systems in our country?” McKay-Ellis asked.
“The fact that an elected official went on national TV to talk about the case and remarked that he was going to make an example out of her is concerning. It would seem that his utterances and stance taken have influenced the process, and we have formed the distinct impression that she has been convicted and is serving a sentence without the benefit of a trial. We are flabbergasted that this is happening in modern-day Jamaica, a nation that boasts of its justice system. We believe that his statement has significantly influenced the progress of the case and the treatment of our sister. They are making her to be the scapegoat,” McKay-Ellis charged.
“What has happened to the legal principle which states that a person is innocent until proven guilty? She has been before several judges and each time it would seem favourable, they go on a break and on their return bail is denied. Will she ever get a fair trial? Will she become very sick or die in custody because someone has deemed her guilty without any trial? How will the justice system explain itself if such a disaster were to happen? How would the international community view our nation in such an eventuality? We have lost faith in the justice system. There are so many questions but there seem to be no answers,” McKay-Ellis said.
She said that while the family craves answers it is unfortunate that their sister served the JCF for 30 years with no record of wrongdoing, but is being denied bail.
“Even while incarcerated she is still doing her civic duty; she has been asked to attend court on behalf of the Crown and has done so on more than one occasion and yet she is still being treated unfairly by the same justice system... We have waited in pain for one year and five months for her to get bail and the case still has not gone to trial... We strongly believe that this matter is politically motivated and hence all the roadblocks and hiccups we have run into. We do not want to see our sister die in jail for an alleged crime because someone wants to make an example out of her,” McKay-Ellis said.
The sergeant's attorney, Peter Champagnie, told the Sunday Observer that while he was not the original lawyer in the matter, he is now retained and since then he has made a number of bail applications on her behalf, which were all refused.
Champagnie added that the circumstances regarding her continued detention are unfortunate, however, the matter is set for trial on June 14.
When the Sunday Observer contacted Llewellyn she declined to go into detail about the matter.
“She was charged on an indictment referred by the Office of the DPP. Her trial has not yet taken place and I will not be reading anything on any quarter as it relates to any personal opinion from any relative. It would be inappropriate,” Llewellyn told the Sunday Observer.
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