A YOUNG WOMAN who was recently jailed for a gun related offence, has been released from prison on account of a decision of the Prerogative of Mercy Committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
Jemelia Bailey of Park Hill, on May 9, 2022 was sentenced to 38 months in prison after a photo with her holding a gun across her chest surfaced on Facebook.
Bailey, who is also known as ‘Gaza’, was jailed along with another Park Hill resident, Glendon De Freitas. He was also sentenced to 38 months in jail.
However, Bailey was able to walk free from the prison, after serving a little more than a week of her sentence.
Her pardon was confirmed by the prime minister on NBC Radio on Wednesday morning, May 18. In response to a question from a listener, Gonsalves confirmed that Bailey had indeed been set free.
When the radio host, Donnie Collins read the question of the person wanting to know if Bailey was indeed set free, Gonsalves replied, “It is true”.
He then named Attorney General, Jaundy Martin; Minister of the Public Service, Frederick Stephenson; Pastor Noel Clarke; medical doctor, Conrad Nedd; and retired public servant, Alma Dougan as members of the Mercy Committee of which, he, the prime minister, is the chairman.
Gonsalves also named Hudson Nedd, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, and Superintendent of Prisons, Timothy Hazelwood as persons who sat in on the meeting called to deal with the matter.
The prime minister said that the committee met at about 4:00 p.m on Tuesday, May 17. Alma Dougan, who is not in the state, joined the meeting via the Zoom platform.
During the meeting, he said they had at their disposal: a document from the Superintendent of Prisons; a full report from the Ministry of Social Development with regard to Bailey, and her four children, ages 14, 10, 7 and 5; and a transcript from the Magistrate’s Court with information about the case relating to Bailey and “the other accused.”
“Having reviewed…all the facts of the case, the Committee of Mercy decided that it would provide a release for her forthwith,” Gonsalves stated on radio on Wednesday.
The prime minister also noted that “the man [DeFreitas] who pleaded guilty said that it is his firearm. He accepted that it is his firearm; that he got 38 months and the lady in whose washing this firearm was left, she also was given 38 months”.
Gonsalves outlined that the immediate release of the 31-year-old female convict is subject to three conditions: that she reports to the Colonarie Police Station once per week; she does not travel overseas, except with the written permission of the Chairman of the Mercy Committee; and that she be not convicted of any offence which carries a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.
The Governor General, under Section 65 of the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines has the power to show mercy to persons convicted of criminal offences or sentenced to criminal offences.
The decision of the head of state in this regard, is made in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.
Gonsalves, while speaking on radio this week, did not give full details of the discussion by the Committee of Mercy, but said the committee considered “all these three reports which were before us.”
He said the committee agreed “and upon their own advice, as prime minister, I advised Her Excellency to effect the release,” subject to the conditions.
The Mercy Committee chairman said the transcript from the Magistrate’s Court was looked at “very carefully” by the committee, as well as the other reports.
“There was unanimity on the question,” Gonsalves said. “I am not going to outline to you chapter and verse, except to say that in the view of the Committee of Mercy and the advice which I tendered to the Governor General, under the Constitution, under Section 65, we felt that this decision was within the four walls of what the Committee of Mercy is called upon to do, “he said.
“And I as prime minister felt that what I did in that regard was proper and correct.”
Section 65 of the Constitution states that the Governor General may: (a) grant a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, to any person convicted of any offence; (b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence; (c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any offence; or (d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on any person for any offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the Crown on account of any offence.
A few days prior to her court appearance on May 9, a photo circulated on Facebook, with Bailey posing with a .380 pistol.
The photo had the caption .380 to do God know what in Park Hill.”
The matter was heard in the Serious Offences Court (SOC) before Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne.
Following the Facebook post on May 7, officers from the Colonaire visited Bailey’s home in Park Hill and conducted a search.
The gun was reportedly found in a clothes basket at her home.
Bailey told the officers that the gun belonged to De Freitas and he admitted to the police that “the gun belong to me”.