Farrell ‘not fit to plead’ – medical report
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January 23, 2018
Farrell ‘not fit to plead’ – medical report

Back in court, then back to the Mental Health and Rehabilitation Centre (MHRC), model Yugge Farrell and family reacted in apparent disbelief to this turn of events coming out of the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Not a normal day at the Kingstown magistrate’s Court, with a new senior magistrate in Rickie Burnett, and a small crowd gathered inside and outside of the courtroom, the hearing of Farrell’s case began with presentation of her medical report.

This report had been ordered by magistrate Bertie Pompey on January 5, to be presented to the court at the end of a two-week observation at the MHRC. Farrell had been charged with causing a breach of the peace by using abusive language, to wit “you dirty bi**h” to Karen Duncan, wife of the Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, at Granby Street, on January 4.

Yesterday, the report presented before the court read that Farrell was “not fit to plead”.

Before the court could even begin hashing out the legality of the matter, Farrell, who had been escorted to court by a number of police officers, stomped out of her seat, arms askew and began yelling.

She returned to her seat, but later had to be escorted to the witness stand by police, with further displays of unusual behaviour.

When the name of complainant Karen Duncan was called, Farrell raised her hand in a position above her head, reminiscent of a slapping pose, and started shaking.

Duncan’s name was called three times, but she did not make an appearance in court.

Farrell’s lawyer, Grant Connell, in light of the findings presented in the medical report, made two submissions to the court.

“Today, the purpose of that report, certainly is not for the purpose of the court… because a plea has already been entered; so, if the report is for the purpose of the court to see if she is fit to plea, to do that which she has already done…,” the lawyer further stating that the gun cannot be jumped by skipping over the “legal injury”.

Secondly, the lawyer asked the court not to accept the report.

“I had various occasions to visit Yugge Farrell, three or four occassions, at the psychiatric hospital…, and not on any occasion of those four she exhibited any attributes that she exhibited today; none!” said the lawyer. Later in his submissions, Connell stated that contrary to his advice, Farrell was given medication, strong antipsychotic medication, which supposedly affects the chemicals in the brain.

“Up until I saw Yugge Farrell on Thursday, she was not behaving this way,” he insisted.

The lawyer also took issue with the fact that the doctor who had signed the medical report was, according to him, “not a psychiatrist”.

He further said that the defence wished to conduct their own psychiatric evaluation.

“I humbly submit, given the magnitude and the ramifications of this application on this young lady, with greatest respect to Dr Sona, it will not suffice.”

The medical report was signed by psychiatrist Dr Sonasree Jammulapati MBBS MD (Psychiatry), a full-time employee of the Ministry of Health, assigned to the MHRC.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams then responded to the submissions presented.

“If my friend spends some time in reviewing the literature in relation to matters of this nature,” he would be aware that the magistrate is under discretion to send a defendant for mental evaluation in the “interest of fairness.” He stated that whether or not she had already pleaded was “a non-issue”.

“The Evidence Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) permits the tendering of any document, ANY document, by a registered medical practitioner in the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the DPP stated.

“I searched the legislation to see where there was this reference to the particulars about a psychiatrist because… I see none,” later clarifying, “But the law provides, that person who are trained…who have qualifications in psychiatry.”

However, the DPP indicated he had no problem with the defence conducting their own evaluation, saying, “if my friend wants to have an independent examination, whether meaning somebody from his side, I don’t see it as something that the court would stand in the way of.”

Connell countered by saying that just because the legislation is “wide open for abuse” does not make it right.

Connell, citing a previous occasion in February 2017, wherein Farrell was discharged within 48 hours after being given an antipsychotic drug, asked that Farrell be given bail.

“She does not need to go back to that institution,” the lawyer said.

Requiring time to consider the submissions and responses, Burnett adjourned the hearing to Monday, January 29. In the interim, Farrell will be taken back to the MHRC, he said.

As soon as she heard this, the 23-year-old defendant twice screamed “Whaaaaat?”, the second more prolonged than the first.

Farrell’s sister, nearly in tears outside the court upon her departure, kept repeating that the outcome was ‘unfair’. She said that while her sister has ‘mental issues’, she is not crazy.

The sister said what was happening was “high class sh**t,” and that her sister had been involved in a relationship with Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves.

“She has a lot to say, but a lot is being covered up,” said the sister.(KR)