TWO weeks after one-year-old Jacob Munroe was found dead in the cesspit of his family’s outhouse, the child’s father yesterday appeared before a Tunapuna magistrate charged with his murder.
A charge of attempted suicide was also laid against Allan Thomas, 27, after he allegedly slit his own wrist and consumed kerosene.
Thomas was brought before Senior Magistrate Cheryl-Ann Blake shortly after 10 a.m. and stood with his head bowed as the charges were laid.
His left wrist was heavily bandaged.
Less than two hours prior to his appearance, Thomas was brought to the courthouse in a police vehicle from Tunapuna Police Station, located just metres away.
Upon his appearance, Thomas, who is unemployed, was not called upon to plead to the indictable charges.
His parents and two sisters sat in court and listened as the matter proceeded. Following his appearance, Thomas’s mother, Elenore Abraham, sat on a culvert outside the building and wept.
She had to be consoled by her relatives.
It is alleged that on a day unknown between November 18 and 21 at his Santa Rita Trace, Maracas Valley, St Joseph home, Thomas murdered the baby.
It was further alleged that he attempted to commit suicide at the same address on November 19.
An autopsy performed on the child concluded that he died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
In his submissions before the court, defence attorney Fareed Ali raised two issues which he said were of concern to him.
Ali made an application, under Section 13(1) of the Mental Health Act, to have Thomas sent to St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital for evaluation, stating that if he was remanded into prison custody he could be a further threat to himself.
“The allegation is that he attempted to commit suicide. If this is the case, then I would ask that he be sent for a mental evaluation. If he did in fact attempt to commit suicide and he is sent to Golden Grove, then he could be a further threat to himself as well as others,” said Ali.
He stated that if the evaluation concluded that Thomas was not mentally unstable, then he could be remanded into prison custody.
This application was met with resistance by the prosecution. The police prosecutor, who did not give his name, informed the court that sending Thomas to St Ann’s Hospital was not necessary. He said a psychiatric evaluation was carried out on Thomas while he was in police custody.
That evaluation, he said, would be made available to the court sometime this week.
Ali also raised issue with the long period of time Thomas had been in custody before the Legal Aid Board was contacted in order to have him retain counsel.
He said his client had been in custody since November 19, with him being unrepresented until last Friday.
This, Ali said, was unacceptable as a person was entitled to legal counsel once he or she was in police custody as a suspect in a capital matter such as murder.
Magistrate Blake in turn questioned Ali if Thomas had in fact been in police custody for that period of time, or if he was hospitalised for his injuries.
“Well, he was warded and handcuffed to the bed and was under police guard,” Ali responded.
Thomas was discharged from Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) last Thursday—ten days after his arrest.
Following the applications, Blake said she was in agreement with the prosecution that Thomas should be remanded into prison custody and adjourned the matter to Friday, when the evaluation is expected to be available.
Ali made a further submission regarding his client’s safety at the prison.
He said he was aware the court could not direct the prison authorities where a prisoner should be housed, but stated he wanted it to be placed on record that an application was made for Thomas to be isolated from other prisoners.
“Well, the prison facility is accustomed to housing prisoners so I trust that they know where they are going to place the prisoner,” said Blake.
Baby Jacob was found in the pit of the outhouse after police carried out a search of the area where he lived.
On Monday afternoon, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard SC gave instructions to investigating officers to charge Thomas with the child’s murder.