Woman dis­ap­pears dur­ing break in fraud trial

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Livern Bar­rett Se­nior Gleaner Writer

A COR­PO­RATE Area judge has is­sued an ar­rest war­rant for a Ja­maican woman liv­ing in the United States who went missing from the Kingston and St An­drew Parish Court dur­ing a short break in her fraud trial on Thurs­day.

Win­some McFar­lane walked out of court dur­ing the break and later dis­ap­peared, leav­ing court of­fi­cials, pros­e­cu­tors, and her at­tor­ney puz­zled.

The court waited two hours yes­ter­day, but she did not re­turn.

When the mat­ter was called up yes­ter­day, Parish Judge Si­mone Wolfe Reece di­rected that the war­rant for McFar­lane’s ar­rest be stayed un­til next Tues­day.

That is when the mat­ter will again be men­tioned ahead of the re­sump­tion of the trial on Thurs­day.

“Set a date to con­tinue with or with­out Miss McFar­lane,” Wolfe Reece in­structed pros­e­cu­tors and de­fence at­tor­neys.

“I don’t want to hold up Miss Thoms’ case,” she said, re­fer­ring to the co-ac­cused in the mat­ter.

In the mean­time, the judge has di­rected that checks be made with the Pass­port Im­mi­gra­tion and Cit­i­zen­ship Agency to de­ter­mine if McFar­lane has left the is­land.

LO­CAL CHECKS

Wolfe Reece has also given in­struc­tions for the Half-Way Tree po­lice to make checks at the Med­i­cal As­so­ciates Hospi­tal.

Pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney Linda Wright told The Gleaner that checks had been made at three ma­jor hospi­tals in the Cor­po­rate Area, but there was no sign of McFar­lane.

“This is al­most bizarre. We are lost. We are not sure what to do in the cir­cum­stances,” Wright said in court yes­ter­day.

“I’m sur­prised at what has hap­pened. I am sur­prised she has not turned up and no one knows what has hap­pened to her,” Wolfe Reece said.

McFar­lane, who is be­lieved to be the owner of a phar­macy lo­cated in St Ann, is jointly charged with Heleen Thoms.

The two women have each been charged with forgery, ut­ter­ing forged doc­u­ments, ob­tain­ing money by false pre­tences, and con­spir­acy.

The al­le­ga­tions, ac­cord­ing to Wright, are that they de­frauded the Na­tional Health Fund of over $600,000. The trial started in 2013. Pros­e­cu­tors have al­ready closed their case and at­tor­neys for both women are ex­pected to make no-case sub­mis­sions.

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