The man accused of biting off chunks of flesh from the face and leg of his five-day-old daughter had to be quickly whisked away from the precincts of the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court yesterday after being threatened with death by other prisoners.
Jermour Noel, 24, was placed in an Amalgamated Security Services van and taken to the St Ann's Psychiatric Hospital shortly after his appearance before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar.
According to Court and Process officers, usually prisoners would be taken away from the court during the late afternoon hours, but in this instance, they needed to take the necessary precautions to protect Noel from harm.
He was brought to the courthouse around 8.30 a.m. by Cpl Roopnarine Sankar and PC Nicholas Ali, of the Port of Spain Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in a heavily tinted Hyundai Tucson van.
Handcuffed and held on both sides by the officers, Noel, who is employed at cable company Flow as a technician, was shielded from media photographers when Ali placed a towel over his head and escorted him into the building.
Shortly after 10 a.m., Noel appeared before Ayers-Caesar in the Eighth Court. Prior to his appearance, he was kept away from other prisoners.
He stood calmly in the prisoners' dock when the magistrate called the matter to be heard. Two unidentified female relatives of the accused sat in court and listened as the matter proceeded.
Several of the murder accused prisoners who sat in the holding bay kept their eyes fixed on Noel throughout the proceedings.
As she was about to read the charge, Ayers-Caesar was stopped by Noel's attorney, Vitti Furlonge-Kelly.
The attorney explained that his client had mental health issues and was not in a position to enter a plea.
Furlonge-Kelly said while in police custody, a psychiatric test was carried out on Noel by a doctor from the Port of Spain General Hospital who recommended that he be taken for further mental evaluation. Sankar, the officer who laid the charge, confirmed to the court that the accused had in fact been referred by the doctor for mental evaluation .
Ayers-Caesar, however, continued reading the charge of wounding with intent against an unnamed child, the daughter of Tineka Henry. Noel was not called upon to plead as the charge was laid indictably.
Police said the child was given the name Jinayah, but it had not as yet been registered with the Ministry of Legal Affairs. The offence is alleged to have taken place on Sunday at Noel's home at Smith Trace, Calvary Hill, East Dry River, Port of Spain.
Furlonge-Kelly also submitted that he was requesting full disclosure in the matter, including "prints" of the injuries to the child's face and leg.
Police prosecutor Sgt Ricky Lochan informed the court that disclosure would be made, but stated that before this was done the relevant files needed to be forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in order to have a State attorney appointed to prosecute the matter.
Lochan also informed the court that the baby was still in a stable condition at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.
Ayers-Caesar said she was not willing to grant bail before remanding him in custody at the St Ann's hospital for further evaluation. She also ordered he be kept "in a secure area" while at the facility.
About half an hour after his appearance, Noel exited the courthouse to find that crowds of people had gathered to catch a glimpse of him. He was cursed at and insulted by several men who stood outside the building along St Vincent Street.
Court and Process officers placed him in the Amalgamated Security van before driving off.
One officer said: "We couldn't keep him in the cells. Those prisoners in there would kill him if they only got their hands on him."
The matter was adjourned to December 27.