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Judge to receive psychiatric evaluations ahead of Twely Joseph sentencing

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • 12-member jury on Tuesday delivered a guilty verdict of Capital Murder
  • Joseph will be sentenced using old sentencing guidelines
  • Criminal Code section 230 provides death sentence cannot be handed down on juvenile at date of offence

High Court Judge Justice Paula Gilford is to receive two psychiatric and social inquiry reports on 19-year-old Twely Joseph ahead of his sentencing on 31 January 2020, in the death of 8-year-old Ariel Bolah of Frequente, St George.

A 12-member jury on Tuesday, 3 December 2019, delivered their guilty verdict of Capital Murder on the accused after deliberating for quite some time.

Bolah’s gruesome death of sent shockwaves throughout the country when her body was discovered in the bushes near her home on 10 November 2017, less than 24 hours after she was last seen returning from school. She was a student of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Grand Anse.

Evidence stemming from the high court hearing gave chilling accounts that led to her untimely death. A report by the pathologist brought forward by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Christopher Nelson, indicates that her death was slow and painful.

Joseph, the convicted teenager, was considered a minor at the time of the discovery of Bolah’s body.

DPP Nelson described this trial as the worst he has witnessed in a long time. “This case in my experience has been the worst I have seen. It is a little child, 8 years, who was not just brutally raped but killed in the most… — it’s hard to describe because it was extremely violent and brutal. She would have suffered, and suffered immensely before she died,” he said.

He said the verdict of guilty on the charge of Capital Murder was consistent with the evidence presented in this case. “I would have been very surprised if the verdict had been otherwise. This is an extremely sad case, a very tragic case. Yes, a young man’s life is in limbo and a little girl came to a very tragic, painful, end. I think it was clear in the court through the trial that the mother and stepfather are yet to overcome this tragic loss.”

Following the verdict, Justice Gilford requested from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that a psychiatric and social inquiry report be submitted by 10 January 2020, thereafter submissions are expected to be made by the prosecution and the defence before the scheduled date for sentencing.

“It is standard procedure in a conviction for murder that the court will order a social inquiry report and as well as a psychiatric evaluation or report of the convicted person that is always relevant in the sentencing process. In this case, more than ever I think, a full and proper evaluation of this young man is required. The nature of this crime speaks of something out of a horror movie so I think very much so in this case, we need that type of evaluation to get an understanding of what was motivating this youngster in order to properly fashion a sentence,” Nelson said.

Since murder is not yet under the new sentencing guidelines, Joseph will be sentenced using the old sentencing guidelines.

Nelson said, “Murder is not yet under the new sentencing guidelines we have for sexual offence, stealing and drugs. The murder guidelines have not yet been formulated and promulgated by the court but several cases will guide the court in sentencing in a case like this, and there are lots of authorities including from our jurisdiction as well as regional and international. There is a concern, he was a juvenile at the time of committing the offence, therefore under section 230 of the Criminal Code although he is convicted of capital murder for which the sentence is death, the law provides that the death sentence cannot be handed down on someone who is a juvenile at the date of the offence. Consequently, it is in the discretion of the judge what sentence is to be administered, so the maximum for practical purposes, is life.”

The DPP said that consideration will be given on the rape indictment in this case in due course.

Attorney at law, George Prime, who represented Joseph, stated that it is too early to say whether an appeal will be filed, but this will be considered at a later date. “Well I can’t say we are appealing right away, those are matters which we must discuss with the now-convicted man. I see very little room for appeal but in murder cases, there are things that we don’t see so the issue of appeal is to be determined at an appropriate time.”

Prime stated his client has maintained his innocence in the murder of Ariel Bolah and has only admitted to the rape aspect of the case. “He maintains his innocence from day one because what he said had to do with the issue of the case factors. This is an allegation of his saying that he had got involved in certain events, but he denied committing the murder. As you know capital murder has certain ingredients in it and that ingredient has to be in pursuant of the sexual relations. He did admit that he had sexual intercourse with that young girl, but denies committing the murder. The version of the defence is that he was not the perpetrator of this event; the version of the prosecution is that you cannot separate the two and therefore that is what the jury indeed took and came to a verdict of guilty.”

The mother of the deceased did not comment on the guilty verdict.

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Safety Net reform begins in the sister isles

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Reform of main safety net programmes on sister isles has begun
  • Eligible households receiving an increase of $100
  • 9,499 individuals receive assistance; Carriacou in 212, and 71 in Petite Martinique

The Ministry of Social Development, Housing, and Community Development has begun to reform the main safety net programmes on the sister isles in line with the SEED programme on the mainland.

This process began in March with the collection of data on all elderly households on public assistance programmes. These were assessed by the Grenadian Living Condition Index (GLCI) and eligible households are receiving an increase of $100.

The SEED programme was implemented with technical and monetary support from the World Bank in 2011. The programme is a conditional cash transfer and targets Grenada’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. The main target groups assisted by the programme are the elderly, children, chronically ill, disabled as well as pregnant and lactating mothers.

As part of that reform, the elderly on the sister isles are receiving the same increase from $200 to $300 that was afforded to the elderly on the mainland. At present, the SEED programme provides students with assistance from as early as the pri-primary level ($50), primary ($75) and secondary ($100). Tertiary students receive $200.

This assistance is expected to economically empower them and improve their standard of living, but under the new mandate, the ministry seeks to break the dependency syndrome.

As a result, the reform of both the Beneficiaries Management Information System and the Targeting Instrument was considered necessary to ensure that the mandate of the programme is met.

Manager of the SEED Programme, Leonora George, said there are many lessons learned from the reforms that took place on the mainland with regards to the implementation of the programme and these would now be used as a guide to ensure that the programme is effectively managed on the sister isles.

“The SEED programme has matured in terms of its implementation arrangement with the World Bank. We are now on our own because we would have completed our implementation arrangements with the World Bank in that we completed all our Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) and all other major milestones that were necessary. From last September, we attained that, so now that we are on our own, we are looking to introduce that concept of social safety net reform to Carriacou. We began with the elderly in Carriacou by recertifying them so that they can get the additional grant. So Carriacou will then experience what we experienced in Grenada by reforming our safety nets,” said George.

The ministry is working to ensure that the nation’s elderly benefit from a waiver of fees when seeking healthcare. This arrangement will be reviewed sometime in the new year.

“Our elderly beneficiaries also get waivers from the hospital whenever they go to do any check-up or any service from the hospital once they acknowledge that they are SEED beneficiaries. We are in the process of preparing cards for them. So, we are working on that; when that is done, then they would have the card to show. So, SEED is growing in terms of expanding its beneficiary registry to cater to as many in our vulnerable population.”

Although the dropout rate of students receiving assistance under the programme has declined, the ministry remains concerned and has sought to address this issue by encouraging families with children struggling at school to enroll them into institutions such as NEWLO where they can learn a skill.

“We do have concerns with the dropout rate. Although it is not as high as it used to be because we are encouraging our students who are having challenges at the secondary level to pursue courses at NEWLO and hence we’re giving them $200. So, what all records are showing is a number of them now transferring from the secondary schools into NEWLO and are graduating with a skill so that they can become employable. Also, the ministry has taken a firm step against parents who are not adhering to their core responsibility of sending students to school,” George said. “We do have concerns regarding some parents not adhering to the core responsibility of sending them to school on a regular basis and we have been issuing letters of warning to parents and I wish to say here that [we] will be very vigilant for the school year to ensure that all students attend school.”

George said continuous monitoring of beneficiaries is needed to understand what type of intervention needed to assist families to hold up their end of the bargain.

“We have to monitor our beneficiaries for more than one reason because, for example, there are families that need support so in monitoring them you would know whether we need a particular intervention. So for a household with children, especially [as] we have a number of our households headed by single mothers, so in a case where that mother is overwhelmed and may not be able to manage the children very well, that person can get support from the parenting programme or that person can get support from counsellors or can use the other services within the ministry so we know what intervention we need to make with some families.”

9,499 individuals receive assistance under the programme. So far 307 individuals were removed as a result of death, migration, dropout or graduation. In Carriacou, there are approximately 212 beneficiaries, while Petite Martinique has 71 beneficiaries reflecting 49 households.

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Co-op Bank and Grenada Nurses Association commence new relationship

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On 5 December 2019, Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited and the Grenada Nurses Association Inc. (GNA Inc.) forged a new business relationship.

At a ceremony held at the bank’s head office on Thursday, 5 December 2019, the two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding that offers preferred terms and conditions to members of the GNA Inc. and their spouses when seeking credit facilities from Co-op Bank.

Signing on behalf of Co-op Bank was the bank’s Chief Operating Officer, Deon Moses, while President of the GNA Inc., Nurse Patricia Strachan, executed on behalf of the nurses.

Nurse Strachan stated that this agreement is first of its kind for the association and described the occasion as a “great moment”, especially as there are limited opportunities existing for nurses. She believes this will enable members to become more empowered to advance and invest in their development once this opportunity is tapped into.

Moses reaffirmed Co-op Bank’s commitment to help build our local economy and people, and sees this relationship as another way it is manifested. He also pointed to the bank’s mission statement which highlights the bank’s commitment to contributing to the wellbeing of citizens where it operates.

Both organisations hope this relationship will be long-lasting and be mutually beneficial.

Co-op Bank

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Cuban nurses to temporarily fill vacancies

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by Linda Straker

  • 30 to 40 nurses from Cuba will be contracted to help fill vacancies within healthcare systems
  • 50 persons will undergo nursing assistants training through National Training Agency

In early 2020 Grenada will be contracting between 30 to 40 nurses from Cuba as a temporary measure to help fill vacancies within the healthcare systems as part of a short-term measure adopted by health administrators aimed at reducing the impact of nurses who are leaving the system and taking up jobs in places like the United Kingdom.

Health Minister Nikolas Steele said government is finalising arrangements for the nurses following the visit of a delegation to Grenada a few weeks ago. “This is a stop-gap measure,” he said, admitting that over the years nurses with experience are leaving the system. “Unfortunately, we are losing our nurses to first world countries,” he said. He did not share the number of nurses who have left the system in most recent times.

Besides Cuba, Steele said that Grenada is also looking to import nurses from Ghana and India. The final agreement will include housing for the nursing professionals.

While the government will be importing the qualified registered nurses and those of high-level qualification, Steele said that 50 persons are desirous of becoming nursing assistants while undergoing a one-year training through one of the certified national training centres of the National Training Agency (NTA).

“We are still on schedule for a January start of our nursing assistants programme. We are in final negotiations with La Boucan and the national training authority of Grenada as well as our Ministry of Youth and Education to finalise the training of 50 nursing assistants, in two batches of 25,” the minister said.

The curriculum is expected to meet the criteria of the Nursing Council, the National Training Agency and the Ministry of Health. The training will involve both theory and practical.

La Boucan Creative Centre is owned and operated by former Health Minister Ann Peters, and her husband Francis Urias Peters. As a recognised national training centre, its programme will be accredited by the National Accreditation Board.

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