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Police treading carefully in MoBay cult case

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Thursday, October 21, 2021

IRONSHORE, St James — The police appear to treading cautiously in building their case against a key player of Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, where two congregants were killed on Sunday, allegedly as part of a bizarre ritual involving human sacrifice.

Assistant commissioner of police in charge of Area One Clifford Chambers told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that ,while they have enough to bring charges now, the legal team has recommended that certain things be done before that step is taken. Lawmen have, in the past, been criticised for failing to provide enough evidence for convictions. However, they have hit back that the courts are too lenient, releasing indicted individuals back onto the streets.

“As it is now, based on my information, he can be charged for certain offences, but the direction from our legal officer is that we would want to do certain things before, which is presently in train before he is formally charged,” ACP Chambers said. “I have an idea when he will be charged, which is not in terms of days and hours; but I am sure that he will be charged when sufficient evidence with regards to certain crimes are put together.”

The leader of the religious organisation and three other men remain in custody while 31 women and seven men taken into custody on Sunday have been charged with breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act and given bail.

Fourteen minors who were at the church at the time of the incident are being held in State care, and people injured during the incident are recovering.

Yesterday, a police team, armed with a warrant, visited a home allegedly belonging to the pastor of Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, Kevin Smith, in the upscale community of Ironshore in St James.

“Given that it was a serious crime that was presumably committed in his presence, then the police would therefore have the authority to get a warrant to enter his home or other places where evidence can be gathered,” explained ACP Chambers.

“Based on the investigative lead, the police would have the authority to go to his house and search for any other supporting evidence that can lead to the best outcome in regards to the investigations and the crimes which were committed,” the senior cop added.

The padlocked gate, he said, would not have deterred his team.

“I am not certain if they were able to enter the property. I have not yet seen an update where that is concerned, but be mindful that the nature of the offence that was committed would have empowered the law enforcement officers to enter by force, if deemed appropriate. So even though there is a padlock, it would not negate the police entering as long as they do have a warrant, properly prepared and signed, that authorises them to enter,” stated ACP Chambers.

In responding to concerns raised that some of the young men who attended Pathway International Kingdom Restoration Ministries were possibly sexually molested, Chambers said his team will follow all angles of the investigation.

“There is information about molestation. That is what it is, information. But that means that it is a part of the investigative mode by the police officers. In a situation like this investigators will do absolutely nothing until there is evidence pointing that it should not be ruled out,” he said.