Judge orders state witness sent to St Ann’s hospital during testimony

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A state witness is placed in an ambulance outside the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain on May 22. –

A HIGH COURT judge has ordered a prosecution witness sent to St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital after she testified in court that she tried to self-medicate to “kill herself.”

The order was made on May 22 by Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds, who is presiding over a judge-only murder trial. The judge’s order came late in the afternoon after court staff told her the witness had taken “too much of something and is now on the floor.”

“I have concerns that this witness needs treatment.”

After both prosecutors and defence attorneys said they were not in agreement with an order under the Mental Health Act being made, the judge said, “I do not want to hear she has harmed herself.

“I am not saying she is mentally ill or suffers from a mental incapacity, I am not qualified to do so.”

Ramsumair-Hinds made the order under section 13 of the act after quoting section 6. The latter says every person who is or is reasonably believed to need treatment can be admitted by an order of the court. Section 13 gives a court the power to make such an order.

The judge said the Judiciary’s medical team called for an ambulance for the witness to be taken to the hospital for treatment for whatever substance she took before she was sent to St Ann’s.

“I am concerned she will harm herself. This is not using the heavy hand of the law.”

Earlier in her testimony, the witness was crying, shaking and covered her ears with her hands while giving evidence about four statements she gave to police in 2013 relating to the murder, as well as her alleged identification of the accused on trial. She said she did not recall speaking to the police or why she signed a statement.

“When the whole thing was going on I was in a dark place. I can’t remember reading anything to sign anything.”

She was also asked why she said she asked God to block out her memory and was trying to take tablets to kill herself. Prosecutors had asked for her to be deemed a hostile witness and were questioning police officers who took her statements before the judge was told of her condition. The judge earlier canvassed making the order with attorneys, but only did so after the woman collapsed.

Before the court is Christon Greaves, also called Grimey Dog, who is alleged to have killed Laventille schoolboy Kazim Maxine, 16, in August 2013, as he walked out of the Laventille Technology and Continuing Education Centre off the Eastern Main Road, Laventille, near the Citrus Growers Association.

Prosecuting is Charmaine Samuel. Wayne Sturge and Danielle Rampersad are defending Greaves.

The trial continues next week. It is being held at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.