Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Vicky’s escape is T&T’s shame

The re-arrest of multiple fraud-accused Vicky Boodram and the prosecution of the alleged conspirators and accomplices who enabled her smooth walk-out from Golden Grove, hardly suffice to satisfy public concern about T&T prisons, and national security as a whole.

In the circumstances, the recapture of the inmate facing so many charges appears to derive more from good fortune than from responses redounding to investigative and security capacity and competence. Reinforcing this conclusion are yet-to-be-recaptured murder accused Hamilton Small who escaped police custody at the Arima Magistrates' Court the morning following Ms Boodram's seamless escape; the escape of Carerra inmates Steve McGilvery and Leroy Mohammed in September 2015; and a mere four months later, the escape of Reynold James from the same island prison.

It was from inside the Port of Spain lock-up that, in 2013, a spectacular break-out occurred, involving inmates on murder charges who somehow managed to equip themselves with, apart from a daring plan and a murderous intent, guns and even a hand grenade, with prison officers supposedly in charge none the wiser. In that instance, a young police officer suffered the ultimate fate and a prison officer injured during the ensuing police shoot-out has since sued the State. Four years later, the euphemistic “investigations are continuing” cliché is yet to birth details of the circumstances that resulted in the break-out and, ultimately, accountability by those who were responsible.

In the case of Ms Boodram's four-day freedom run, that such an elaborate and intricate plot could be conceived and put into effect, with eye-opening initial success, reinforces worrisome concern about security generally and, in particular, inside the prisons. The Boodram escape design apparently involved police officers, and all the felonious smarts entailed in drawing up and submitting what turned out to be forged official documents that were Ms Boodram's passport out of the Golden Grove prison.

T&T has accordingly been left with the saddening realisation that the prison and police services are open to be suborned in support of dastardly criminal ends. Moreover, what the initial give and take over bail provisions confirmed was only an endemic sickness of the criminal justice system allowing the Boodram accused to remind the court that some fraud charges against her had been in place for six years, without any movement toward a conclusion or verdict. Her situation is not unique.

Despite the parade of accused in the Port of Spain Eighth Court, such process as has been engaged adds up to more cause for shame than for satisfaction that the rule of law is unfolding as it should.