KINGSTON, Jamaica – The image of a heartbroken woman was the sight of Sophia Lugg, the mother of Donalee Donaldson, as she entered the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning for the bail application of the man charged for the murder of her daughter.
Lugg could hardly hide her emotions when the prosecution outlined the evidence they gathered against her daughter’s boyfriend, Constable Noel Maitland, who was slapped with another charge of preventing the lawful burial of a corpse.
During the prosecution's nearly two-hour submissions on the reason the Crown is opposing Maitland's bail application, Lugg was observed with red eyes and shaky hands as she attempted to drink water.
At one point, she was seen wiping tears and being comforted by a court employee, when Justice Vinnette Graham-Allen was told that blood on the right corner of a red couch was taken from Maitland's apartment on Chelsea Avenue in Kingston.
It was later stated that two men, who were using a truck he had hired to carry the furniture to a car wash, where he told an attendant that his cousin wounded his hand and blood got on the couch.
The court was told that after the attendant started to wash the couch, the attendant exclaimed, "Jesus, this man must dead. Him bleed out or this come in like them kill somebody in a it!"
Hearing this, Lugg was observed to be shaking.
After cleaning the couch, the court was told that Maitland went to collect it the next day and he was seen on CCTV footage driving behind the truck to an area in downtown, Kingston, where it was loaded off the truck. The couch has apparently not been seen since then.
Outlining the allegations, the prosecution disclosed that Donaldson was involved in a three-year long relationship with Maitland. Between late night of July 11, 2022 and early July 12, 2022, Maitland picked up Donaldson at her home.
He was driving his grey BMW motor car, and about 8:00am on July 12, Donaldson apparently spoke to her mother on the phone and indicated that she should return home soon.
According to the prosecution, Donaldson also spoke to her father, who is located in the United States, regarding funds to be sent to her via Moneygram Remittance Service. After her father sent the money, he contacted Donaldson via Whatsapp with the transaction number. But the court was told this message was never read.
In addition, the court was informed that about 4:46 pm on that same day, Donaldson spoke to her brother who also lived in the US for approximately one minute and 30 seconds. The brother allegedly observed the room Donaldson was in was not her home, as he was familiar with their home in Jamaica. Her brother, the prosecutor said, also provided a description of the room she was in, speaking to the "yellow wall" and the "brown curtains.”
The court was told that based on photographs taken of Maitland's apartment, "Miss Donaldson was in the accused man's apartment based on the similarities."
On July 12, 2022, Lugg was said to have expressed concern after calling Donaldson's phone during the evening and the night. The phone, the court was told, rang and no one answered and when she called again at 9:00pm, the phone went straight to voice-mail.
After calling Lugg on July 13 and inquiring about the whereabouts of his girlfriend, Maitland is said to have informed the mother that he and Donaldson had an argument and she left "about 11 o' clock in the morning [July 12] after telling him she was going to "pick up money her father had sent via Moneygram," the prosecutor said.
It is alleged that after inquiring about the CCTV footage from the apartment building, Maitland later informed her that the technician is unable to say which of the cars on the property Donaldson left with as the car windows were up.
The prosecutor also told the judge that there was DNA evidence from "brown drops and stains from curtains at the apartment," which resembled blood, matched that of Donaldson's toothbrush, which was handed over by her mother.
"Another observation, Milady, is that the CCTV cameras at the neighbour’s house, all five cameras, and those at the gate of the complex, while they show the accused man and Donaldson arriving at the complex there is no footage, no recording of her leaving," the prosecutor said.
On July 27, Maitland was arrested and charged with the offence of murder, and when cautioned he reportedly said "Jah Jah."
Throughout the Crown's submissions, Maitland sat stoically, a stark contrast to Lugg.
Meanwhile, during attorney-at-law, Christopher Townsend's submission for bail application, the lawyer made it known that the defence team denied the allegations, calling the case against his client "weak."
"Mr Maitland has not sought to interfere with witnesses. His only fault is that he was zealous in trying to get information concerning the possible disappearance of his friend," he said.
He also argued that the alleged blood coming from the couch could not be verified because it was not tested.
Townsend added that cell site data indicating that Donaldson’s cell phone was in the vicinity of the apartment complex was inaccurate because cell phone sites "has somewhere in the region of two miles," and that two miles is only if a cell phone is connected to that site, since a cell phone may not connect to the nearest site, because that server maybe full and so the cell phone would automatically connect to another site; extending the range.
He also told the court that his client is an "excellent candidate " for bail because he has served in the Jamaica Constabulary Force for nine years without incident, he is not a flight risk, and if there are concerns about him interfering with witnesses who resides that the apartment complex, then he is prepared to live somewhere "far."
After hearing the submissions, Justice Graham-Allen adjourned the matter until October 13, when her ruling on the bail application will be announced.