System failure

BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — A St Elizabeth attorney representing murder accused Anward “Kirke” Hinds is suggesting that a delay in the justice system and a breakdown in lock-up management contributed to last week’s jailbreak at Black River Police Station lock-up.

Attorney Thomas Levene told the Jamaica Observer on Monday that his client, who is facing a quadruple murder charge and who was one of eight inmates who escaped during the jailbreak on June 19, had protested about his trials being continuously delayed following two incidents in 2015.

“Mr Hinds has been complaining bitterly in court about the length of time it has taken for his matter to be tried and, as it relates to his defence, he was always ready for his matter to be tried. He is charged with others in relation to the [quadruple] murder so there was some delay with the co-accused, but as it relates to him, he was always ready for the matter to be tried,” said Levene.

Hinds has been charged in relation to the murders of four farmers — Archibald Brown, 60; his brother George Brown, 57; Maurice Sanderson, 40; and Ezra Wright, 73 — in the remote community of Claremont in northern St Elizabeth on May 27, 2015.

At that time police had said he was believed to be the leader of a gang which was a remnant of the infamous Stone Crusher gang.

In July 2015 he was found hiding in the ceiling of a house in Hatfield, Manchester, and apprehended.

Two weeks after his escape from the lock-up Hinds’ quadruple murder trial is set to begin.

“The police are unable to account for the whereabouts of my client and he has a trial — the murder matter that was set for priority to start on July 3,” said Levene.

Hinds is also on a four-count indictment before the St Elizabeth Circuit Court for a reported shooting incident on January 19, 2015 in Breadnut Walk, St Elizabeth.

“It is alleged that there was a shoot-out with several police officers. That matter is set for trial for November 22 as a priority,” said Levene.

The attorney added that he was surprised to learn of his client and other high-risk inmates being in the same lock-up.

“In relation to the shooting matter, he was also ready for that one to be tried also, so [it was] after much complaining in court — by both him directly and myself — that we were able to push the matter to be set for priority trial in the St Elizabeth Circuit Court,” said Levene.

“Last week Monday I got information that the police were unable to account for his whereabouts. But I was surprised because I know that, based on the persons who they cannot account for, it would have been the normal practice for the police not to keep all these high-value prisoners in one location,” he added.

He said Hinds was previously moved from the lock-up in Black River to May Pen.

“There was some issue, based on what the police explained, that there was some information they received as it relates to the cell block, and my client was removed to May Pen. [Then] they took him back and placed him with these high-valued prisoners with multiple charges against them stemming from different incidents,” said Levene.

“I am looking out to hear from Mr Hinds so that he can present himself back into custody or for the police to tell me if they have found him,” added the attorney.

A police source told the Jamaica Observer that there have been reports of Hinds being seen in Montego Bay since his escape from lock-up, but he has eluded the police.

“The information is that he is in the Montego Bay space. So far, police have done two operations and one of the places where he was [reportedly] spotted is his [relative’s] place,” said the source.

The other detainees who escaped on June 19 are Oral Cole, 31, from Comfort Hall, Manchester; Richard Brown, 34, from Middle Quarters, St Elizabeth; Alrick Hutchinson, 38, from Brighton District, St Elizabeth; and Dean Simpson, 34, from Turner Top, St Elizabeth, who were all in custody charged with robbery with aggravation. Jevaughn Simms, 25, from Copperwood, St James; and Kenneth Stewart, 30, from Beacon Hill, St Catherine, were both being held for murder; and Demar Williams, 29, from Gravel Heights in Spanish Town, St Catherine, is facing a shooting with intent charge.