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Terror worsens

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Terror worsens

Armed intruder, believed to be a squatter, attacks householders in hurricane-ravaged Caribbean Terrace

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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The fear that has gripped legitimate residents of Caribbean Terrace in recent months, because of their unwanted neighbours, turned into a nightmare last Friday when a family was attacked in their house by an armed man believed to be one of the squatters.

The family’s domestic helper was cut several times by the intruder as she tried to prevent him from entering the house, where he attacked a female resident in her bed and escaped with a bag containing more than $50,000 and a cellular phone.

“I live here 41 years and I have never been afraid in this house, even after the hurricanes which damaged several houses and the invasion of the squatters. But I sat on my verandah last Saturday and the leaves blow and I was afraid.

“I drove up to the house yesterday (Monday) and just to open the gate I was afraid. My daughter, who was not at home at the time of the attack, they had to call me at school to get her yesterday as she just sat down and started crying. Every time I close my eyes I just see this boy stabbing after me,” said Natalie White as she shared details of the family’s ordeal.

White said the drama started shortly after 9:00 pm when the domestic helper, “Shelly”, reported that she saw someone peeping into the house and looking at her teenage daughter.

Minutes later Shelly pulled the grill at the back of the house to continue her domestic duties and was attacked by a man, armed with a knife, who had gained access to the premises through a gully at the back with overgrown shrubs.

“I was on the phone when Shelly called out my name. Then I heard a man call out my name as he entered my bedroom. By the time I looked up, him slash after me with a knife and say ‘weh the money deh? Give me the money’,” White told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“I was sitting on the bed and my six-year-old son was sleeping beside me. I don’t know how I got up, but I jumped up and moved to the corner screaming. But I was very hoarse so the scream was not clear, and him continued to stab after me until him see the purse on the bed,” she said.

“I was so happy that him see the purse and him grab up it and the phone and ran out. I checked to see if my son was okay and then I banged on my brother’s door because he was sleeping,” added White, who received minor wounds on her leg and hand.

She said minutes later, Shelly came into the house and collapsed on the floor bleeding mainly from her hands.

“Shelly said she opened the grill and went outside when the boy came out of the dark and said, ‘You know what me come for, weh the money deh?” and started stabbing at her. Shelly said she felt none of the cuts until she came inside and saw the blood.

“She said, ‘Ms White, you couldn’t take the stab them so me couldn’t make him come in there like that’. She told her daughter to run but because her daughter saw her bleeding, the child didn’t want to leave, so she had to push her out the gate before she come inside, but by that time the boy gone,” said White.

According to White, despite being injured, Shelly tried to go after the attacker but by then he was seen heading towards the beach where scores of damaged, abandoned buildings have been occupied by more than 100 squatters.

White’s brother Marlon, who had been sleeping at the time of the attack, is in pain as he struggles to deal with the fact that he was unable to defend his family and employee at the time of the attack.

“If you don’t have a safe sanctuary then what else do you have? If you are not safe in your own home, then what else is there?” he asked. “As taxpayers that is the least you should expect.”

He noted that a police team was quick on the scene after they were called but they opted to take Shelly for emergency medical treatment rather than chase after the invader.

Now Marlon wants urgent attention paid to the squatters who live in the houses which were battered and bruised by hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Dean in 2007, before they were abandoned by their owners.

“I think it has been a combination of neglect by the authorities. The two administrations have left the remaining residents here in limbo. Caribbean Terrace is still a beautiful, vibrant community but we need to know what is going to happen to the squatters,” he said.

“No disrespect to the decent persons among the squatters, but the problem is, this is people’s homes that they have worked hard for, and it is heartbreaking to see squatters taking over. It is either that the Government is going to knock down the abandoned buildings or fill them with concrete so that nobody can live in them, and they would act as a buffer from the sea,” he argued.

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Local elected reps respond to Bunting’s leadership challenge

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — After Manchester Central Member of Parliament Peter Bunting created waves by announcing his decision to challenge for the presidency of the Opposition People’s National Party, attention quickly turned to those supporting him.

At the local level, elected representatives in the PNP’s Region Five (Manchester and St Elizabeth) have come under close scrutiny. Some were keeping their cards close to their chest when the Jamaica Observer Central asked questions, while several others couldn’t be reached.

Some, led by Member of Parliament for Manchester Southern Michael Stewart, left no doubt by turning up at the Knockpatrick Divisional Conference a week ago, to publicly support Bunting.

Stewart joined the outspoken Dr Dayton Campbell, MP for St Ann North Western, in arguing that the party president Peter Phillips had failed to gain “traction” despite a spate of scandals afflicting the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government.

The PNP needed fresh leadership to have a chance of winning the next election and Bunting was best able to provide that, Stewart suggested.

Parliamentary elections are constitutionally due in 2021. However, Prime Minister Holness has the authority to send Jamaicans to the polls at any time before then. Many believe Holness will do so next year.

While he had not, up to then, had time to consult with his constituency executive and delegates, Stewart told comrades at the Knockpatrick conference that Manchester Southern will “not be left behind” in supporting Bunting.

Mayor of Mandeville and councillor for the Royal Flat Division, Donovan Mitchell, a leading figure in Bunting’s Manchester Central constituency, spoke on behalf of the entire constituency executive in support of their MP. Councillors from the constituency and aspirants from the JLP controlled Knockpatrick Division joined Mitchell on the platform in solidarity with Bunting at the Knockpatrick meeting.

The Jamaica Observer Central made telephone contact with Mikael Phillips, MP for Manchester North Western and the son of Peter Phillips. The younger Phillips made clear his “disappointment” with Bunting’s challenge to his father’s leadership at a time when he said the PNP needed to be “united” as a “team” to defeat the JLP government whenever elections are called.

“The same money that Comrade Bunting will have to use to run an internal election could be used in the effort to defeat the JLP,” argued Phillips.

Ervin Facey, councillor for the Spur Tree Division in the Manchester North Western constituency, turned up at the Knockpatrick meeting and brought greetings. However, he told the Observer Central by telephone that he attended the meeting as a neutral. He had not yet taken a position in the upcoming contest for leadership of the PNP, he said.

It’s expected that PNP delegates will cast their votes at an internal poll during the party’s annual conference in September, though there are suggestions that a special delegates conference could be organised before then.

Councillor McArthur Collins representing the New Green Division of Manchester NW, who, like Facey, is a veteran in the Manchester Municipal Corporation, indicated by telephone that he needed to consult with delegates in his division before making a final decision.

“I have to listen to the people,” he said. However, from a “personal” perspective he questioned the wisdom of Bunting’s challenge at this time. “I don’t think the challenge is good for the party…,” said the veteran politician.

In St Elizabeth the lone PNP MP, Evon Redman (St Elizabeth North Eastern), could not be reached for comment.

However, former Mayor of Black River and councillor for the Balaclava Division Everton Fisher, and Layton Smith councillor for the Myersville Division were at the Knockpatrick conference to enthusiastically throw their weight behind Bunting.

“The basic reason for supporting Bunting is that we need to win, we need to defeat the JLP — and all the polls are saying [Phillips] cannot win,” Fisher told Observer Central. “I have nothing against Dr Phillips; I think he has served the party and country well and still has a contribution to make. But I think Bunting can make the party viable for an election victory,” he added.

Smith was equally forthcoming. “I think we need somebody fresh, with different ideas … I have nothing against Dr Phillips but I think Bunting is the right man to lead…,” he said.

Councillor for the Braes River Division, Donovan Pagon, said he was keeping his options open and he would not attempt to sway his delegates one way or the other.

“It’s a democratic party and it is well within the rights of Comrade Bunting to do what he has done, but I would leave it up to the delegates to make their choice. I will not interfere,” said Pagon.

As to his personal position, the councillor said “I am still considering…”

 

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Cop beaten at police station

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — A police constable had to seek medical attention after one of his arms was fractured during an altercation with a group of detainees who set upon him at the Falmouth Police Station last Saturday.

According to a well-placed police source, the constable was attacked in the holding area of the police station by a group of about three men.

The men, who the police suspected to be gangsters, had been picked up and taken into custody for processing.

The constable’s colleagues rushed to his assistance, but they arrived after he was held by one of the men and beaten by another.

The injured cop was taken to a medical facility where he was treated and released.

He is expected to return to hospital tomorrow for follow-up treatment.

The Falmouth police are probing the incident, and charges are expected to be laid against the men shortly.

 

— Horace Hines

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Observer story sparks help for young fire victim

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Less than one month after eight-year-old Rickayla Scotland lost her house and everything in it during a fire, more help is coming for the little girl who wailed, “All a mi book dem burn up!” when the Jamaica Observer visited the scene at 126 Orange Street, in down- town, Kingston, where she lived with her family.

Rickayla, a grade three student of Holy Rosary Primary School, seemed more disturbed about missing school than the fire as she told the Observer, “If I was at school I would be learning or playing with my friends.”

Moved by her concerns the Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA), last week presented five book vouchers valued at $25,000 to little Rickayla.

LIAJA president Nicholas Graham and other members of his executive made the trip to Orange Street to present Rickayla with the vouchers.

According to Graham, having seen the article in the Observer the LIAJA felt compelled to render assistance to this little girl.

“In keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2030, the LIAJA strongly believes in quality education for the nation’s youth and as such saw the need to make a contribution to Rickayla so that her educational pursuits were not disrupted. The book vouchers will therefore be useful in assisting her to recover books lost and more,” said Graham.

The LIAJA represents information professionals and institutions in Jamaica.

Rickayla was among eight children and 22 adults who had been left homeless as a result of a blaze at 126-128 Orange Street on May 15. The fire was allegedly started during a domestic dispute involving one of the occupants of the tenement yard and his girlfriend.

Kingston Bookshop Ltd had also donated $60,000 worth of book vouchers to Rickayla.

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