PSU questions charge brought against prison officer
A PRISON officer has been charged with causing a wound above an inmate’s eye that needed five sutures.
However, in the wake of this arrest, the President of the Public Service Union (PSU) Elroy Boucher has questioned whether the proper procedure was followed in handling the matter.
Thirty-three-year-old Kenson King of Park Hill was brought to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court yesterday, having been charged that on June 27, at Her Majesty’s Prisons in Kingstown, he unlawfully and maliciously wounded 23-year-old Dorian Mapp of Victoria Village.
Mapp is currently serving a sentence at the prison.
According to a usually reliable source, the prison officer was summoned to a cell to deal with a fight between two inmates. One inmate is said to have been displeased with being carried out of the cell. The source said King apparently tapped him and told him to behave, and the inmate supposedly slapped the prison officer, following which an altercation took place during which the prisoner was injured.
Mapp still has to be examined by an eye specialist.
No objection to bail was proffered by prosecutor Corlene Samuel.
However, King’s counsel, Jomo Thomas, wanted to take it a step further and ask that his client be given bail in his own recognizance meaning he would not need a surety to come and stand for him. A surety is often attached as a condition to bail, and this person should ensure that a defendant/ accused comes to his court dates. If a defendant absconds, it may fall to the surety to pay the sum stipulated as bail. Thomas argued that his client has been a prison officer for 15 years. The lawyer said that King has not been relieved of his job, and therefore it is likely that he will return to the job. He said that King was ready and willing to adhere to whatever adjourned date was given.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, noting that he had heard counsel’s application, stated that bail would be set in the sum of $2000, with one surety.
King was observed a short while later outside of the court, and therefore seems to have been released on bail.
On the same morning that King was brought to court, the PSU President called in to the radio station BOOM 106.9 during discussions surrounding the incident.
Boucher commented that there is a procedure “when a public servant has engaged in misconduct or any ill discipline, even if it is of a criminal nature.”
“The procedure starts with the Superintendent of Prisons informing the Permanent Secretary, who informs Services Commission,”
the President stated, informing the radio hosts that this was rooted in the section on discipline in the Public Service Regulations.
“If the Commission thinks that it’s a case in which the law has been broken, then they seek advice from the office of the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions),” Boucher insisted.
The President said that he heard that King was taken into custody at his workplace.
“Now as far as I’m aware, the police cannot come on the compound unless the Permanent Secretary calls the police,” the President continued, adding that the acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security is Yvette Pompey.
“We are really concerned that perhaps the procedure was not followed,” Boucher ended, saying that he would like to know if the permanent secretary called the police.
The President also pointed out that from the allegations, the prisoner assaulted King. Therefore, it should have been that “the Commission is charged with doing an investigation before doing anything else.”
“Arresting is the last thing, because you have to first show that the law has been broken,” Boucher emphasized.
This is the third time in the last two months that King has come to national attention. In late May, he was detained by the police for over 30 hours while they conducted an investigation into claims that he had incited public fear and alarm with a post he is alleged to have made on Facebook. He was not charged in relation to that incident.
Then on June 15, Grahame Bollers, attorney for Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves demanded in a pre-action letter that King apologize to the Prime Minister and pay half his monthly salary to the Zero Hunger Trust Fund for what Bollers described as King’s “outrageous defamation” of Gonsalves in a newspaper article about the May incident.