Man sues State for being kept almost 10 years on remand

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

A lawsuit seeking more than $3 million in redress by way of compensation has been filed against the Attorney General by Jones Raymond, who is claiming that his imprisonment for almost 10 years on a murder charge has constituted a breach of his fundamental rights, and that he had experienced inhumane treatment while behind bars.

The father of four, who had been on remand since December 28, 2012, was released from prison by Justice Sandil Kissoon as he presided in the Demerara High Court on July 25 of this year, because of the lengthy time Raymond had spent in pre-trial detention. In ordering the release of Jones Raymond, Justice Kissoon had, among other things, declared that the State had violated Raymond’s constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time, as guaranteed under Article 144 of the Constitution, due to the inordinate delay in trying him. Justice Kissoon had thus stayed all criminal proceedings against Jones Raymond.

Raymond had been remanded for the murder of 33-year-old Gary Joseph, which had occurred at some time between December 26 and December 27, 2012. The prosecution’s case was that Joseph and several friends had been imbibing at a shop on Boxing Day of December 2012 when Raymond inquired from him what Joseph had done to his son.

Raymond had armed himself with an arrow and bow, which he had used to shoot Joseph. The arrow had struck Joseph in his abdomen. The injured Joseph had been rushed to the Mahdia Hospital before being transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he died.

Specifically, the 68-year-old Raymond, of Micobie Village, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), is seeking more than $1 million in compensation for the violation of his fundamental right to protection of the law, guaranteed under Article 144 (1) of the Constitution, as a result of him being imprisoned on remand for in excess of nine years without a trial, after being charged with the capital offence of murder.

According to Raymond’s legal team, which is led by Timothy Jonas, SC, this is in contravention of their client’s right to receive a trial before a court within a reasonable time, as guaranteed by the above-mentioned constitutional provision.

The lawyers are also seeking damages in excess of $1 million for the inhumane and degrading treatment their client had endured while being incarcerated in both the Camp Street and Lusignan Prisons for more than nine years without a trial. And they are seeking compensation for Raymond of more than $1 million for having been kept and housed in prison in awful and deplorable conditions.Following a Preliminary Inquiry (PI), Raymond’s lawyers deposed, their client had been committed to stand trial for Joseph’s murder on October 15, 2014. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had received the depositions from that PI on March 23, 2015, but had remitted the case to the Magistrate’s Court for the presiding Magistrate, Alan Wilson, to correct “several material irregularities and/or omissions”, and for him to take additional evidence.

That Magistrate had, however, never complied with the DPP’s directive, and as such, Raymond’s PI had been invalidated, and he was therefore not indicted by the DPP. However, with no indictment preferred against him, Raymond had been left languishing in jail. Senior Counsel Timothy Jonas submitted that his client had remained in prison until his matter was brought before Justice Kissoon as a result of jail delivery.

While an inmate at the Camp Street Prison for over eight years, Jones Raymond complained, he had been housed in a crowded cell, measuring approximately 15 feet by 20 feet, and containing at least 17 other inmates.“The said cell contained two toilets, of which often only one was functional; and one bathroom, to be shared by the said inmates therein. The said toilet was often clogged, and reeked of an unbearable stench,” his lawyer disclosed.

According to counsel, Jones Raymond had told him that the cell was hot, filthy, and smelled deplorable. “As a result of overcrowding, there were insufficient cots, and the claimant [Raymond] had often slept on the floor of the cell,” Jonas added.He also deposed that, almost every other day, there was no running water in the cell, and his client and the other inmates had often been unable to bathe.

During a night in January 2013, counsel has said, Jonas Raymond’s foot and chest were set on fire on five different occasions by unknown inmates, and he was not protected from these atrocities by prison guards.Senior Counsel Jonas has submitted that, after the Camp Street Prison had been gutted by fire in July 2017, Raymond had been relocated to the Lusignan Prison, where he and other inmates had been “kept in an open pasture with no shelter, running water, or other facilities for the first seven days of his stay there.”

Raymond’s counsel further submitted thus: “He lived and slept on the ground in an open field exposed to the elements, and had no place to shelter from the sun or rain. During that period, it rained on about three separate occasions. The field was muddy, swampy, flooded when it rained, and inundated with snakes and frogs.”

A riot caused by inmates had ensued at the Lusignan Prison in 2017, the Senior Counsel said, and although his client had not been a participant, Jonas Raymond had been shot with pellets by Police officers who had been brought in to quell the unrest. Those pellets have not been removed from his body, the Senior Counsel disclosed, as he highlighted that the pensioner Jones Raymond has been traumatised by the conditions in which he had been kept in prison.