Jamaican man gets $125,000 after unlawful detention

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A Jamaican man who was held unlawfully at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for almost a year was yesterday awarded $125,000 in damages.

Matthew Sewell, 28, was sent to the detention center to await deportation in November 2014 after criminal charges were dismissed against him.

Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered his immediate release in October 2015 after his lawyer, Fred Smith, QC, argued that the committal order under which his client was being held was defective, having been granted under a section of the Immigration Act that does not even exist.

Sewell had been in and out of custody for offenses ranging from rape to murder since he arrived in New Providence on June 10, 2006 for a visit to his father, who is married to a Bahamian.

Ten days after his arrival, he became a victim of a sequence of unproven accusations.

He was accused of raping a six-year-old girl who resided next door to his father’s house. He was detained for two weeks without bail, then charged and remanded to Fox Hill to await a preliminary inquiry.

Sewell was held at Fox Hill for two years before he was granted bail in May 2008. The case was finally dismissed without trial in 2013.

While on bail awaiting trial for the 2006 rape charge, Sewell was again arrested on a rape complaint made by a girlfriend and charged with a murder, which took place while he was behind bars. He remained in Fox Hill without trial for more than four years.

After the murder charge was withdrawn, Sewell was illegally held at the immigration detention facility.

Sewell was charged with another rape in January for which he is on bail.

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