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Park Hill woman was an “appropriate case” for mercy – PM

Park Hill woman was an “appropriate case” for mercy – PM

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A WOMAN who was recently released from prison after serving a little over one week of her 38-month sentence for firearm possession, was an “appropriate case” for the Committee of Mercy to “show mercy”.

The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves reiterated this stance of the Committee while speaking on the “Issues at Hand” program of WE FM 99.9 on Sunday, May 22.

Earlier in the program the radio hosts were speaking about violence in society and also referenced last week’s editorial in SEARCHLIGHT that cited the move by the Mercy Committee as “beyond disappointing” in light of the proliferation in homicides committed here with illegal guns.

Later into the program, the Prime Minister called in and indicated that the first issue he would speak on is concerning violence in the society.

“I think that the various commentaries that have been made by the panelists, I think are on point in respect of the broad causes of the violence and what we have to do,” he began, in terms of correction in the homes, school, churches, communities, “…the NGOs, persons who are in leadership in one position or another and certainly actions by the judicial system, the state generally, police, how we cooperate with one another regionally and internationally with the flow of arms and the like.”

The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of National Security, said that all of these areas are very relevant.

“There is certainly the issue increasingly, I’m thinking, with a number of persons, young persons particularly, who seem not to be able to differentiate between some of the things they may see on TV or on YouTube and the kind of violence which is often portrayed and as though they are immune to any reflection as to what this thing represents,” Gonsalves noted.

“…It numbs them in some way and dulls their consciousness about this matter,” he reflected further.

Gonsalves mentioned that he had spoken about the issue before and did not want to speak much more on it, but he stated “the decision of the Committee of Mercy was a decision not at all to provide any inconsistency between the prevalence of guns and the decision to ‘show mercy’ to this particular young lady.”

“The Committee of Mercy found in this particular circumstance, on the facts before them, that it was an appropriate case to exercise mercy and to impose the conditions of the release for that particular young lady,” he added.

On May 9, Park Hill resident Jemelia Bailey was sentenced alongside her co-accused Glendon DeFreitas to serve a penalty of 38 months imprisonment for illegal possession of a .380 pistol. The police had seen a photo of Bailey on social media in which she appeared to be posing with the weapon across her chest with a caption “380 to do God knows what in Park Hill”. The officers went to her home where they found the gun in a clothes basket in a storeroom. Bailey claimed DeFreitas owned it, and DeFreitas admitted this as well.

The Prime Minister first confirmed Bailey had been released when answering a question from a listener of NBC radio on Wednesday, May 18.

He said that the Committee met on Tuesday, May 17 and 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.”

The Prime Minister said that having reviewed “all the facts”, it was decided that she would be released forthwith on the conditions that 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.