By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
ALLEGED child abductor De’Edra Gibson will stand trial in six months’ time charged with abducting four little boys, one as young as three, from various places in New Providence between February and March of last year.
Justice Bernard Turner said the hair stylist will stand trial on June 30 on four counts of abduction stemming from allegations that she abducted three eight-year-old boys and a three-year-old between February 16 and March 29, 2019.
The Crown, led by prosecutor Abigail Farrington, is seeking to have all four allegations tried at once; notice of that pending application was given to Justice Turner by Ms Farrington yesterday. The application for joinder is expected to be made by February 25.
Gibson, who was on bail up until last month when she was charged with attempting to steal a seven-year-old boy on December 9, 2019, was remanded into custody until that time.
Last April, Gibson was charged before Magistrate Samuel McKinney with abducting three eight-year-old boys and a three-year-old between February and March.
During her initial arraignment, her attorney at the time, Howard Thompson Jr told Magistrate McKinney that the accused has a history of mental health issues. He said in October 2018, Gibson spent some time in the psychiatric ward of Brookdale University Hospital in New York.
At the time, Mr Thompson said. he had also received legal instructions from Gibson that ranged from “incomprehensible” to “bizarre”.
As a result, Magistrate McKinney remanded the woman to Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and adjourned the matter to have a psychiatric report on her mental fitness presented to the court. That psychiatric report revealed she was in fact fit to plead to the charges. She subsequently elected to be tried in the Supreme Court.
Gibson was later granted $20,000 bail with two sureties by Justice Gregory Hilton.
As part of her bail conditions, Gibson was ordered to have regular check-ups at SRC every two months, follow her treatment plan and provide proof of compliance to the court.
She was also ordered to surrender her passport and wear an ankle bracelet. She was also ordered to report to the Elizabeth Estates Police Station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
On July 31 of last year, when Gibson was presented with her four VBIs, it was revealed that the Crown had upgraded her charges from child abduction to child stealing.
Child abduction carries a maximum prison term of two years. However, if convicted of child stealing, Gibson would face up to 10 years in prison.
Five months later, the 30-year-old was again arraigned before Magistrate Samuel McKinney on a single count of attempted child stealing. And at the time, Gibson broke down in tears and blamed the “lodge” for “plotting” against her.
Although she was not required to enter a plea to the charge, Gibson, who was on $20,000 bail for the previous allegations, maintained her innocence, and insisted that she would never compromise her freedom by committing such an act.
“I feel as though, this that they putting on me, I did not do it,” she insisted. “I’m not guilty and I would not jeopardise my freedom…”
Despite her pleas, however, as attempted child stealing is an indictable offence and one that can only be tried in the Supreme Court, she was ordered to be remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services until the end of February, when a voluntary bill of indictment (VBI) will be served.
Prior to being remanded, Gibson had alerted Magistrate McKinney to her other charges, and that she was on bail in relation to those. She then asked if she could be remanded to SRC as opposed to going to prison, given her documented mental health issues.
“Is it okay if I go—because I’m a Sandilands patient and I take medication and everything—is it okay that I go to Sandilands? Because I have court January 16 for my other case,” she asked.
However, Magistrate McKinney maintained that she would be remanded to BDCS, and that the best he could do in the circumstances is order that she be seen by a psychiatrist while at the Fox Hill facility. That is, unless she is successful in securing bail a second time from the Supreme Court.
He subsequently adjourned that matter to February 28.
As she was being escorted away by the officers for her previous matter, Gibson, visibly frustrated, tearfully said: “All of this is because of what I do? Because I here? And like I tell them I feel as though the lodge is plotting on me. So I really don’t know what I did to deserve this, sir.”
Gibson is now represented by attorney Uel Johnson.