AFTER spending two weeks under police guard at the Port of Spain General Hospital, the man accused of kidnapping six-year-old Keyianna Noel from her Duncan Street, Port of Spain home last month made his first court appearance yesterday.
In addition to the kidnapping charge, Keyianna’s stepfather, 33-year-old Benjamin Yearwood, faces charges of escaping legal custody, assaulting a police officer and larceny of a pair of handcuffs.
Those charges centre around an incident on Monday morning when Yearwood allegedly escaped from a ward at the Port of Spain General Hospital and was recaptured shortly after on the compound of Holy Name Convent along Queen’s Park East.
Yearwood appeared before Magistrate Melvin Daniel in the Port of Spain Fourth (B) Court around 3.30 p.m.
He was brought to the courthouse around midday by officers of the Port of Spain Criminal Investigation Department (CID) along St Vincent Street and placed in a cell with several other prisoners.
Yearwood’s appearance before the magistrate did not take place without hiccups however as when it was time to be taken before the magistrate, Court and Process Branch officers were unable to open the holding cell.
He, along with six other prisoners remained trapped in the cell for close to an hour before fire officers were called in. Court officials said one of the prisoners tampered with the cell’s key hole resulting in it becoming jammed. The fire officers arrived at the court around 3 p.m. and used bolt cutters and an electric saw to open the cell.
When he appeared before the magistrate, Yearwood was asked if he had an attorney. He said he did not. None of his relatives were present in court during the hearing.
He stood with his hands clasped behind his back as Daniel read the charges.
Yearwood was charged with kidnapping Noel on December 15, escaping custody while under police guard, assaulting PC Kerry McIntosh and larceny of McIntosh’s pair of handcuffs valued at $400. The last three offences are alleged to have taken place on Monday at the hospital.
He was not called upon to plead to any of the charges with the exception of stealing the handcuffs to which he pleaded not guilty. Police prosecutor Sgt Stanley Joseph said he was strongly objecting to bail being granted. Joseph said it was likely that if Yearwood was granted bail, he may not make himself available in court whenever he is required to do so.
“If granted bail we believe he will not surrender. He was in police custody and allegedly escaped so if given bail he will most likely not show up for court,” said Joseph.
Told that he was being denied bail, Yearwood raised a concern with regard to his health condition saying he was currently on medication and questioned how he would be medically cared for.
Daniel informed Yearwood, who has addresses at Lion Drive, Carapichaima, Broome Street, Aranjuez and Waterhole, Cocorite, that at the prison there is an infirmary and a doctor who would provide the necessary medical care.
The magistrate explained to Yearwood that despite being denied bail, he had the right to apply for bail before a High Court judge.
He will next appear in court on February 11.