There was desperation on both sides. A woman in Cayman wanted a child. A family in Jamaica wanted a better life for their child.
That was the way Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale summarised a situation that led to an intermediary being charged with obtaining property by deception.
The property obtained by Karlene Mae Henry was CI$340. The deception was Henry’s assertion to the nurturing mother in Cayman that the family wanted money or they would take the child back.
Henry, 48, pleaded not guilty, but acknowledged that the family never asked for money.
She was convicted after a trial that concluded last week. She gave evidence on her own behalf and was assisted by the magistrate because she did not have an attorney.
Henry, a Jamaican national, had been here as a domestic helper on a work permit.
She brought the baby from Jamaica some years ago. A second charge against her was making a false statement about the baby to Immigration.
The case came to light when the nurturing mother went to Immigration authorities and indicated she could not deal with the situation any more.
She said she had sent Henry money over a period of months, $50 or $60 or $100 at a time. She did so because Henry was threatening her that she would lose the child.
The defendant maintained that the woman in Cayman was grateful to her and the money was a gift. ‘She told me she would give anything I ask because I help her find a child.’
Asked if she had threatened the woman, Henry said she had told her she would call Immigration and say the woman had the child and wouldn’t send it home.
Henry also admitted telling the woman that the family needed JA$100,000 or would take the child back. ‘I just try to pressure her.’
Henry indicated that she was building a shop in Jamaica and needed the money. She figured that, if she told the woman the money was for the family, it was more likely it would be sent.
In addition to the complainant’s testimony, there were letters Henry had written. The magistrate read a portion and said this was the sort of letter that would terrorise and cause real fear.
She concluded that Henry had used the situation to her own advantage after falling on hard times. ‘You should be charged with much more. There must be some charge to prohibit this sort of transaction between persons,’ the magistrate commented.
She also expressed concern about the child. After so much time, it would be deleterious to remove the child from the only home it has ever known, she said.
A senior Immigration officer present advised that the department was going to assist in getting the child’s situation regularised.
The magistrate imposed a fine of $500 for the deception charge and $500 for making the false statement to Immigration. She also ordered compensation of $340 and advised Henry of her right to appeal within seven days.
The case for the prosecution was conducted by Crown Counsel Toyin Salako.