Last update: 25-Apr-2014 12:23 am
Friday, April 25, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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No prison isolation for man accused of child’s murder
Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez has guaranteed the safety of murder accused Allan Thomas, who has been charged with killing his 16-month-old son, Jacob Munroe. Martinez gave the assurance in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon, hours after Thomas, 27, of Santa Rita Trace, Lluengo Village, Maracas/St Joseph, was remanded into custody after appearing in court charged with the toddler’s murder. “I have a duty of care to all prisoners. I will see to it that he is safe and protected from harm,” Martinez said.
During his appearance before Senior Magistrate Cheryl Ann Blake in the Tunapuna First Court, Thomas’s attorney Fareed Ali raised concerns over his client’s safety in remand. Ali suggested Thomas should be isolated from the prison population. He said Thomas had told him while in police custody, he was repeatedly harassed by fellow detainees, who were being kept alongside him in the holding cells of the station.
Ali said: “It is common knowledge that persons who are brought under these allegations are subject to some sort of affront.” He said while he understood that a magistrate did not have the authority to instruct the Prison Service on how to house prisoners, he still wanted the issue to be placed in the court’s records. Blake agreed, saying: “You can make representations to the prison on his behalf.” Asked about Ali’s request for his client to be kept in isolation, Martinez said that was impossible.
“That cannot happen. The prison is overcrowded. That is why we have been asking for a new remand facility,” Martinez said. Thomas appeared in court shortly before 11 am yesterday to answer the charges. Dressed in a green T-shirt and pinstripe pants, he stood silently in the prisoner enclosure as the charges were being read to him. His left wrist was bandaged.
He was charged with murdering Munroe at his home on a date unknown between November 18 and 23 and was also charged with attempting to commit suicide on November 19. On November 18, a relative contacted St Joseph police, saying the child had been kidnapped from the family’s home. A day later, police searched the home, where they found the child’s body, in a cesspit. A post-mortem showed Jacob had died from massive head injuries.
During yesterday’s hearing, Ali applied to have his client sent to the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital for two weeks to undergo a mental-health evaluation. He suggested that from the attempted suicide charge, it could be inferred that his client had a mental health issue which would be exacerbated if he was remanded to prison. He said Thomas should be sent to the hospital for the evaluation and if he was cleared, he could then be sent to Remand Yard.
Blake dismissed the application after police prosecutors intervened to tell the court a psychiatric test had been done on Thomas while he was in hospital last week. They said a report would be completed later this week and would be presented to the court and to Ali during Thomas’ next court appearance. Thomas will reappear in court on Friday.
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