The probe into last week’s security breach at the District ‘D’ Court Complex in Cane Garden, St Thomas has resulted in a nursing assistant being charged, as police continue investigations and search for a second suspect.
Sharmanique Akilah Cox, of 2nd Avenue Eckstein Village, Tudor Bridge, St Michael was remanded to Dodds after appearing before Magistrate Deborah Beckles on Thursday, accused of sneaking drugs, phones and other contraband to a prisoner on May 9.
“The alleged act was a brazen act,” Sergeant Victoria Taitt told the District ‘D’ Magistrates’ Court as she successfully objected to bail for the 28-year-old mother of one.
Cox pleaded not guilty to introducing prohibited articles into prison without lawful excuse. The contraband included a quantity of cannabis, two bottles of tattoo ink, four needles, two cellular phone chargers, three cellular phones, some wrappers, two flash drives and a power bank.
Cox is further accused of entering within the boundaries of a prison without lawful authority.
She is also facing charges of possession, possession with intent to supply, and trafficking of cannabis. The woman denied all the allegations and Sergeant Taitt strenuously objected to bail.
The prosecutor pointed to the serious nature of the offences. She said that while some may argue the allegations levelled against Cox were “simple offences”, that was not the case.
“We say these are serious. One of those charges points to the location where the alleged incident occurred, which is within the precincts of the court. To be direct, the area where the prisoners transported from the Barbados Prison Service are held, awaiting to enter the courtroom. The accused was linked to the person that was there,” she disclosed.
Taitt also pointed to the breach of security, telling the magistrate that the court was forced into a lockdown on the day of the alleged incident.
“That proved to be an extreme breach of those proceedings for that date . . . . This was not an isolated incident. I will not go into the realm of speculation but the court is alive . . . and I would let the court take its mind where it should on that point,” she added.
Sergeant Taitt made it clear that a message must be sent that “acts of this nature would not be tolerated” by the courts.
Investigations are still ongoing into the matter, she disclosed, adding that another person was being sought by police and there were fears that Cox would hinder that probe.
The prosecution conceded that the accused was not known to the court but asked the magistrate to be mindful of the charges levelled against her on her first appearance.
She also pointed to the “strength of the evidence”.
“There is video footage and the accused was held directly after this act, within the precincts of the court,” Taitt disclosed.
But defence attorney Sade Harris, who represents Cox in association with Michael Lashley KC, urged the magistrate to quash the objections of the prosecutor, arguing that the submissions had gone into the “realm of the facts” which should not be before the court at this time.
Harris argued that what the court ought to consider was whether her client would turn up for court when mandated to do so.
“The offences which are before the court do have a correlation to the Prison Act; we will not deny that. However, at this stage, all the offences are mere allegations and should be treated as such. . . . . The in-depth synopsis that the prosecutor [gave] is rife with allegations – allegations at this stage that we cannot ventilate or substantiate.
“Ms Cox is a fit and proper candidate for bail,” insisted Harris who added that her client had a two-year-old son who had been diagnosed with leukaemia and needed her at this time.
The defence lawyer also pointed out that Cox had a fixed place of abode, was gainfully employed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and had strong ties to the community. Stringent conditions to bail, she said, could be imposed to ensure that the accused appeared when needed.
However, in considering the submissions, Magistrate Beckles rejected the defence’s bail application based on several factors, including the nature and seriousness of the offences.
She then remanded Cox to prison until June 15.