Jamaica Gleaner

PAINFUL PROS­E­CU­TION!

Fe­male cop freed of cor­rup­tion charge an­gry and dis­ap­pointed

- Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer

“FREED. I am free. Lord Je­sus, I am free!” shouted Con­sta­ble Ale­cia Hutchin­son last week, af­ter Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate Carolyn Tie ruled that the pros­e­cu­tion had not proved a case against her.

For 31 months Hutchin­son lived with the threat of a prison sen­tence hang­ing over her head af­ter she was charged with breaches of the Cor­rup­tion Preven­tion Act and aid­ing and abet­ting the un­law­ful re­lease of a pris­oner.

It was al­leged the Hutchin­son col­lected $200,000 from the girl­friend of Greg Tay­lor – who was in cus­tody in con­nec­tion with sev­eral crimes – to aid in his re­lease from the Freeport lock-up in Mon­tego Bay, St James, in Jan­uary 2013.

But Hutchin­son de­nied the charge as she ar­gued that she was on duty in West­more­land, at the Sa­vanna-la-Mar Po­lice Sta­tion, sev­eral miles away, on the day the pris­oner was re­leased.

“All the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments at that sta­tion can prove that I was there,” de­clared Hutchin­son.

But that did not con­vince in­ves­ti­ga­tors who ar­rested her and took her to the Dis­cov­ery Bay Po­lice Sta­tion lock-up be­fore mov­ing her to the Freeport Po­lice Sta­tion lock-up in Mon­tego Bay, where she spent 17 days be­hind bars.

Ac­cord­ing to Hutchin­son, she was de­nied clothes, food and vis­its which she was en­ti­tled to, and was not charged un­til the 14th day af­ter the ar­rest.

‘MYS­TE­RI­OUS’ IN­CI­DENTS

She said she was taken to court on day 15 and granted a $1-mil­lion bail, but a se­ries of “mys­te­ri­ous” in­ci­dents led to her be­ing bailed days af­ter it was of­fered.

Among the mys­ter­ies were the dis­ap­pear­ance of the bail bond and the dis­ap­pear­ance of doc­u­ments, in­clud- ing those ver­i­fy­ing the own­er­ship of the ve­hi­cle used in her bail.

Now that she has been cleared by the court, Hutchin­son is telling her story, adamant that she did noth­ing wrong and dis­ap­pointed that she was aban­doned by those she ex­pected to sup­port her in her dark­est hour.

“I have learnt so many things dur­ing this pe­riod of two years and five months, eight men­tion dates, 36 court trial dates be­fore I was freed last week.

“I was on sus­pen­sion and when you are on sus­pen­sion you get no salary. For the en­tire pe­riod, there was not even a call from the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion, the union that rep­re­sents me,” said Hutchin­son.

“The Fed­er­a­tion is quick to as­sist the po­lice of­fi­cers on mur­der charges. But in my case, the Fed­er­a­tion ap­par­ently found me guilty and didn’t as­sist in any way. My mother is sick. My fam­ily suf­fered. I suf­fered. My child suf­fered for some­thing I did not do. Some­thing I could not have done,” added the re­lieved cop.

AID­ING AND ABET­TING

Hutchin­son was charged along with Ray­mond John­son, another cop, for aid­ing and abet­ting the re­moval of a pris­oner from the Freeport lock-up, while a third cop who was also ar­rested, Con­sta­ble Kir­ton Green, was freed of a charge of cor­ruptly so­lic­it­ing money, af­ter the pros­e­cu­tion failed to prove that he had taken money from the pris­oner.

Last week, Hutchin­son re­counted how she was taken to the lock-up in a seven-car en­tourage with sirens blar­ing on the day she was ar­rested.

“I felt dirty. I felt like a crim­i­nal and I know I could not have done what I was ac­cused of, and for what I would have to wait another 14 days to be charged.

“In­ter­est­ingly, I was charged for aid­ing and abet­ting the re­lease of a pris­oner. To date no one was im­pli­cated on the pri­mary charge of the un­law­ful re­lease, and no one was charged,” said Hutchin­son.

She said po­lice wit­nesses de­scribed her as hav­ing “four dif­fer­ent hair­styles, clothes, none of which I was wear­ing, and the ve­hi­cle said to have been used to trans­port the pris­oner was in garage three months be­fore I was charged un­til weeks af­ter I was bailed”.

Ac­cord­ing to Hutchin­son, it was with the as­sis­tance of fam­ily the and friends that she was able to find the more than $1.6 mil­lion it cost her for trans­porta­tion be­tween Manch­ester, where she lives, and Trelawny, where the trial was held.

“I up­hold the law as a cop, and more­over, the law of the land is my guide as I do my job. I make it my duty to know the law. And that is why I am hurt, be­cause the very law I must up­hold was used to in­jure my rep­u­ta­tion as a per­son and as a cop,” lamented Hutchin­son.

erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

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