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Sewell Bail Decision Facing Court Review

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A magistrate’s recent decision to grant bail to a Jamaican facing his third allegation of sexual assault in ten years is facing a “review” in the Supreme Court.

Matthew Sewell, 27, appeared before Justice Bernard Turner concerning the Crown’s application for a review of the February 18 decision of Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt to release Sewell on $6,500 bail ahead of trial on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.

He is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl between the night of January 18 and early morning of January 19.

The Crown had asked for a 48-hour stay of the bail decision pending a review of the matter to a higher court.

The request was granted but after no formal documentation was provided to the court indicating the same, the chief magistrate allowed the conditions of bail to take effect and Sewell was placed on electronic monitoring.

In yesterday’s proceedings before Justice Turner, Garvin Gaskin, acting director of public prosecutions, was asked by the judge if there was any documentation before his court for him to hear the matter.

Mr Gaskin said oral notice was given in the lower court of the Crown’s intent to have the matter reviewed, in line with provisions of the current Bail Act.

Justice Turner said there was nothing before the court explicitly referring to an appeal of the decision.

The senior prosecutor said the court could still review the matter in the form that the hearing originated and asked that it be done at the earliest convenience of the court.

Justice Turner said he would oblige the request but would allow Sewell to remain on bail, as he was already being monitored and had appeared before the court as summoned.

The matter was adjourned to Monday, February 29, at 2pm.

Alex Morley, Adrian Gibson and Romauld Ferreira appear for Sewell in this matter.

Sewell’s first run-in with authorities was in June 2006 when, at the age of 18, he was granted three weeks stay to visit his father in the Bahamas before finding himself accused of raping a six-year-old girl.

He was released on bail in 2008, but was arrested in April 2009 and charged with the alleged rape of a girlfriend.

He was held in custody as an inmate from April 2009 to August 2013.

Shortly after he was granted bail, Mr Sewell said he was transferred to the Detention Centre on the grounds that he had no legal status to live in the country.

Two months after entering the Detention Centre in October 2013, he was charged with housebreaking, an accusation he denied. Five months later, he was accused of murder.

On October 31, 2014, he made his first scheduled appearance before Justice Bernard Turner on the murder charge, all the other charges already having been dismissed for various reasons.

In November of that year, the murder charge was dismissed and he was turned over to the Detention Centre.

In October 2015, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered the immediate release of Sewell from the detention facility.

Sewell has since filed a civil suit against the government and is using the historic case of Atain Takitota as a legal authority where the Japanese man was awarded more than $1m in damages for his unlawful detention.

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