Colwyn Harding departs for medical treatment in Jamaica

Colwyn Harding, the man who accused a policeman of raping him with a baton, yesterday left Guyana for Jamaica, where he is expected to undergo medical examinations and receive necessary attention for severe intestinal damage.

Harding’s lawyer Nigel Hughes said on his Facebook page that on Saturday the man was examined under general anaesthetic at a private medical facility by a private doctor and it was found that he is still bleeding in the upper rectum area.

Hughes, who has been watching the interest of Harding, 23, since his allegations against the police were made public,

Colwyn Harding (in wheelchair) poses with family, friends and supporters shortly before he checked in at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. He and his mother, Sharon (right) later left for Jamaica where he is expected to received additional medical attention.
Colwyn Harding (in wheelchair) poses with family, friends and supporters shortly before he checked in at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. He and his mother, Sharon (right) later left for Jamaica where he is expected to received additional medical attention.

said that early yesterday morning Harding departed “Guyana for Jamaica for medical assessment and attention.” He also posted several photographs of Harding, who was sitting in a wheelchair surrounded by family, friends and supporters.

Stabroek News was told that the man was accompanied to Jamaica by his mother and the length of his stay would be determined after he is assessed by doctors. This newspaper was told too that the required medical reports were also sent to Jamaica for the doctors there to examine before Harding arrives.

Harding has alleged that he was sexually and physically assaulted by a policeman who arrested him on November 15 last year. In December, while he was a remanded prisoner, he was admitted to the George-town Public Hospital to undergo surgery for what doctors have said was an incarcerated hernia. Two procedures were performed and complications have resulted in Harding now having to use colostomy bags to defecate.

Shortly after his discharge, Harding was taken to a private city hospital, where he was admitted. His mother Sharon had said that among other things an examination found that there was human waste trapped near his anus, which could potentially lead to an infection.

Meanwhile, Hughes said too that Tiffany Edwards, one of the young women arrested with Harding last year, has made an official report to the Timehri Police Station about an alleged assault on her by the constable accused of sodomising Harding. He said that a statement about the assault was also given to the police at the station.

Edwards, 18, had said that she was two months pregnant at the time and she was kicked by the policeman and she has since suffered a miscarriage.

With the help of supporters, Edwards has been released from the New Amsterdam Female Prison after the $110,000 bail she was unable to pay was raised. Following her release, she underwent a medical examination at a private city hospital.

According to Hughes, efforts are also being made to assist Harding’s girlfriend, Teanisha Evans, who is serving a prison sentence for theft. The attorney said that up to last Friday, “despite our daily efforts the case jacket for Ms Evans could not be located at the Georgetown Magistrates Court Registry.”

He said this has hampered efforts to file an appeal out of time and thereafter apply for bail. “Next week we propose to use other resources to secure the requisite information to enable an application for leave to appeal out of time for Ms Evans,” he said.

While no one witnessed the alleged sodomy, what is clear is that Harding was severely beaten while in police custody. Evans, Edwards and two others have given written statement to Hughes to that effect.

Harding, his girlfriend and several others were arrested in relation to an allegation of break and enter and larceny. They were taken to the Timehri Police Station, where Harding alleged that he was badly beaten. Several eyewitnesses corroborated his story, with one saying that he was at one point beaten until he blacked out. One witness also said that ice was brought to put on his swollen body.

Harding was charged several days later with assaulting a policeman but was unable to pay his bail. He was taken to the Georgetown Prisons, where according to him he attempted to explain to prison officers what had happened.

Instead of listening, he said, they laughed at him.

Harding was first taken to the Georgetown Hospital on December 13 last year and after an examination he was referred to the surgery department. It would appear that he was given a return date and was taken back to the prison. Four days later, he was rushed back to the institution after his condition worsened and he underwent emergency surgery the following day. It was on this day that his mother made contact with Police Commis-sioner Leroy Brumell and later spoke with Divisional Commander George Vyphuis and the officer in charge of the sub division under which the Timehri station falls. She said that she told each of the officers, when she spoke to them, about the sodomy allegation but police have said that were never aware of the seriousness of the issue.

Doctors at the Georgetown Hospital have since said that Harding was being treated for a hernia and at no time did they see any signs of the alleged sodomy nor did he report it to them. While they could not say with certainty if an object inserted into the anus could cause the hernia, they said that it is possible that constant hitting to the abdomen could cause such a condition. Harding is alleging that at no point did the hospital tell him what was wrong with him and instead on the two occasions he had to be taken there, the medical staff spoke directly to the prison officials.

After the story was first reported in the press on January 10, Brumell instructed the Office of Professional Responsibi-lity (OPR) to launch an investigation.

To facilitate this, the constable accused of the assaults was placed under close arrest while several ranks from the Timehri Police Station were transferred. The investigation was completed and the file was sent to the Police Com-plaints Authority (PCA) for perusal and input.

Up to late yesterday afternoon, the file was still at the PCA. Stabroek News was told that it contained 40 statements and these would have to be looked at carefully.

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