By Observer News – Saturday, November 12th, 2011.
Thompson appeared in the St John’s Magistrates’ Court yesterday before Magistrate Keith Thom charged with two counts of human trafficking- -offences allegedly occurring on June 23 and November 6 this year.
The prosecution objected to bail informing the court that Thompson has interfered with witnesses.
The court was told that investigations are ongoing and it is believed if the businesswoman was released she would hamper further investigations.
“She was initially picked up and released. During that time (of her release) the police have received information that she has interfered with a couple of the witnesses.
“The witnesses reside in an apartment rented by the defendant. These are the witnesses that have been tampered with,” the prosecutor told the court.
As the prosecution noted its objections, Thompson was seen shaking her head in the negative and looking up in the air in apparent disbelief at what was being alleged.
Thompson’s attorney, Lawrence Daniels, told the court that his client is a national of Antigua & Barbuda and the owner of several businesses.
Daniels said that the issue of witness tampering was a mere allegation at this stage and added that the prosecution has failed to name the victims.
“The defendant was in police custody for 48 hours and released. She was released for six hours and returned to the police station as ordered. She is the owner of several properties in Antigua. She is a businesswoman and operates stores; nightclubs-she is the owner of Jam Dung nightclub; she is the owner of several apartments and she has a number of properties on rent to both local residents, regional and international visitors.
“She is the promoter of several shows in Antigua and Barbuda. She has two stores at the market. In noting the prosecution’s objection that she would interfere with witnesses, this has not been brought to our attention. This is the first time this is being brought to our attention. The court is unaware of who witnesses she has interfered with,” Daniels said.
The attorney told the court that if Thompson is released she could be relocated to other accommodations, which Magistrate Thom told Daniels was not the issue.
Daniels said the businesswoman strongly denies the allegation of witness tampering and requested that she be granted bail with the appropriate conditions attached.
“This is just an allegation. No names have been mentioned. The defendant is entitled to bail and must not be unduly kept in custody on an allegation that is not yet proved.
“If she is granted bail and she interferes with witnesses, she can be taken into custody and her bail can be revoked. The court can also put certain restrictions in place. She cannot hamper the police with their investigations,” Daniels told the court.
In reply, the prosecutor said that the penalty for this offence upon conviction is a fine not exceeding $400,000 or 20 years in prison or both.
He said the prosecution was unable to release the names of the witnesses at this stage due to safety concerns and investigative purposes.
“We have received the reports but do not have statements as yet. The investigations are ongoing in relation to several other persons. Other statements are to be recorded and more charges are likely,” the prosecutor said.
Seventeen passports belonging to Jamaican nationals were found at Thompson’s Paradise View residence. The prosecutor said none of the passport holders reside at the premises where the travel documents were found. The affected individuals reside in McKinnons, Fort Road and York’s.
Magistrate Keith Thom made his decision to remand Thompson due to the serious nature of the allegations.
The well-known promoter was picked up on Monday after a victim made a report to the police that her (the victim’s) passport was being held by Thompson and she was refusing to hand it over.