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Former prison officer wants justice

Former prison officer wants justice

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“It seems like there is no justice for poor people in St Vincent.”

That is the conclusion of 41-year-old Rebecca Toby, who claims that she has been waiting for four years for justice after she was fired from her job as a prison officer after just over two years on the job.{{more}}

Toby spoke to SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week and vented her frustration about the situation which she believes is being deliberately dragged along.

The mother of four showed SEARCHLIGHT several documents which illustrate the time line of the drama that is yet to come to a conclusion.

Following her dismissal on February 28, 2005, the Public Service Union took up Toby’s case and on October 20, 2006, at a hearing with the Public Service Board of Appeal, Toby said it was agreed that she be reinstated at an equivalent post because she was unfairly dismissed.

But that was far from the end. In January 2007, Toby was told that the Attorney General was going to review the case and an appeal would be heard.

Since then, through her attorney Nicole Sylvester of the Caribbean International Law Firm, Toby, of Stubbs, has been trying to secure her day before the Public Service Board of Appeal.

She told SEARCHLIGHT that the situation is especially frustrating because she has been unable to secure a job because potential employers are cautious because they are unsure about why she was dismissed from her previous job.

Toby said that she is growing weary of the process and wants to know, as her lawyer has indicated in many letters to the Public Service Board of Appeal and the Attorney General’s office, what is taking so long.

“Our client is deeply concerned and frustrated with the inordinate delay. It appears as if there is a concerted effort to deprive our client of a hearing,” one letter states.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan she said that her office is ready for a hearing but said the date for a hearing isn’t set by her office.

She also suggested that her office is comfortable with the decision not to settle the matter and to investigate further and justify Toby’s dismissal at a hearing.

However, Chairman of the Public Service Board of Appeal, Cecil M. John told SEARCHLIGHT that the matter was in the hands of the Attorney General.

This is basically what was communicated to Toby in a letter dated February 19, 2009, from Chief Personnel Officer, Tyrone Burke in response to a letter addressed to him on January 16, 2009 by Sylvester inquiring about the state of the case.

“Please note that your correspondence has been forwarded to the Attorney General for guidance on the matter,” Burke said in the letter.

Toby told SEARCHLIGHT that her pain is being compounded by her belief that the circumstances which led to her dismissal stemmed from her not covering up some unethical actions by a fellow officer.

She claims that she was labeled a snitch by this officer and there began her nightmare.

Now whether in her favour or not, Toby wants her day at a hearing – when she can defend herself, because she remains convinced that she was wrongfully dismissed from her job.

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