CHARGED: Roxanne Agard leaves the  Arima Magistrates' Court yesterday under police escort after appearing  on charges of wilful abandonment and exposing her child's life to danger.  The mother of three allegedly abandoned her last child outside St Mary's Children's Home in Tacarigua on December 23. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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I WANT MY BABY

Mother charged with abandoning child goes to court

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

ROXANNE AGARD, the mother of three who allegedly abandoned her last child outside the St Mary's Children's Home in Tacarigua on the night before Christmas Eve, yesterday appeared before an Arima magistrate and said she wanted to see her baby boy.

The request was made through Agard's attorney, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.

Agard, 32, of Ninth Street, Five Rivers, Arouca, yesterday appeared before Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan at the Arima First Magistrate's court.

Agard was charged with wilful abandonment and exposing the child's life to danger.

The charges were laid indictably, and Agard was not called upon to plead either her innocence or guilt in the matter.

Agard was charged under Section 21 of Chapter 11:08 of the Offences Against The Person Act by WPC Dick, of the Arouca Police Station.

This section states: "Any person who unlawfully abandons or exposes an child under the age of two years so that the life of the child is endangered or the health of the child is or is likely to be permanently injured is liable to imprisonment for five years."

Agard, wearing a multi-coloured jersey with the word "diva" printed on the back was brought to the prisoner's dock around 11 a.m.

She sat there until the matter was called around 11.15 a.m.

Beckles-Robinson, Agard's lead counsel, asked for the matter to be stood down.

The matter was again called at 11.36 a.m., but Beckles-Robinson called for it to be stood down a second time, as one of Agard's relatives was on the way.

The matter was called a third time at 12.25 p.m. Beckles-Robinson asked for bail to be granted to Agard.

Beckles-Robinson said Agard, a mother of three, is a caregiver who looks after the elderly. Agard has an eight-year-old daughter named Jamila and a two-year-old son named Jeremie, in addition to the baby who was abandoned.

The baby, who has been named Josiah by the nurses caring for him, has been given a "clean bill of health", court prosecutor Sgt Valerie Leon said yesterday.

Agard was granted $50,000 bail with a surety by Cardenas-Ragoonanan.

Ricardo Parker, the father of Agard's first son, Jeremy, stood bail for her. Parker is a contractor from McBean, Couva.

He was the only relative of Agard's who was present in court yesterday.

Cardenas-Ragoonanan yesterday ruled that baby Josiah has to stay at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, until a further order is given.

Cardenas-Ragoonanan also ruled that Agard should be entitled to have access to baby Josiah.

The decision to allow Agard access to baby Josiah was in the interest of the child, Cardenas-Ragoonanan said.

"You should see your child," Cardenas-Ragoonanan said. Baby Josiah's father has not been found, Leon said.

Cardenas-Ragoonanan ordered a probation officer's report on Agard and baby Josiah.

Cardenas-Ragoonanan said "in the best interest of the child" she intended to move the matter along "swiftly". She proposed to have the matter completed in a month's time.

Beckles-Robinson yesterday slammed officers at the Arouca Police Station who prevented her from visiting Agard on Thursday night.

Cardenas-Ragoonanan said a lawyer being allowed to visit a client "is not a privilege, but a right". Agard was in police custody since January 1.

Beckles-Robinson said the officer who barred her from seeing Agard was a "senior officer and ought to know better".

Sgt Leon, however, was praised for her work ethic by both Cardenas-Ragoonanan and Beckles-Robinson.

Agard was also represented attorney Shurland Augustine.

The matter has been adjourned until January 22.

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