Jessroy McKelly, February, 7, 2013
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Jessroy McKelly escaped from Her Majesty's Prison at Balsum Ghut last Saturday, February 2 due to frustration caused by ill-treatment at the prison, according to his lawyer Patrick Thompson.
McKelly, who is on remand for the murder of Kareem 'Bingy' Sebastian, appeared in court yesterday, February 7 to answer to the additional charge of escaping lawful custody.
During mitigation, Thompson said there was no premeditation, planning and no outside help for the February 2 escape. He told the court that it was a spontaneous act as McKelly took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him.
Thompson told Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards that McKelly has various complaints about the way he is treated at the prison.
"He has many and various complaints against the authority on how he is treated at the prison. It was frustration which led him to this offence," Thompson stated on behalf of his client.
The lawyer further stated that McKelly committed no offence while at large, nor did he cause any harm while at large.
According to prosecution, on February 2, McKelly was doing his recreation when he got into an argument with one of the prison guards as to when his recreation was to come to an end.
The court heard that shortly after the argument, McKelly ran through the prison gate, out on the main road, heading south.
It was stated that a prison officer gave chase and a Police Inspector who was heading north along the same main road spotted McKelly and joined the pursuit.
McKelly ran into some bushes and the police officer and prison guard searched for the inmate, found him and turned him in to the police station.
It was pointed out that McKelly was at large for 40 minutes.
Prosecution stated that during his interview at the police station, McKelly admitted to the escape.
McKelly will be sentenced on March 8 in relation to this offence.
This is not the first time that McKelly has escaped custody. In March 2009, he escaped police custody and fled to St. John, USVI where he was subsequently apprehended and turned over to local police. At the time, he was facing common assault and assaulting a police officer charges.
Committed To High Court For Murder Trial
Meanwhile, prior to the hearing the escape of lawful custody matter, after reviewing evidence presented in court, Senior Magistrate Richards ruled that there is enough evidence for the murder charge against McKelly to go before a High Court Judge and jury. This means that McKelly will now stand trial in the High Court in relation to the murder of Sebastian.
It is alleged that Sunday, August 24, 2008 around 7:55 pm, McKelly, 25, shot Sebastian, 26, multiple times. At the time of the shooting, the victim was sitting with others under the shed at the entrance to Crab Lot, known as the Ghetto.
Sebastian was seriously injured and hospitalized following the shooting, but succumbed to his injuries on May 27, 2009.
In December, McKelly claimed that his rights were being violated since his case was marred with delays due to lack of legal representation.
On December 6, 2012, McKelly had made his concerns known when he told the court that the 27th of December would have made nine months since he was placed on remand in relation to the case.
"I am getting violated. All I am getting is word of mouth about me getting a lawyer...A year almost done and nothing. I feel violated," he told the court. He was later assigned Thompson.