Woman lived in abandoned building

Jamaican national Jennifer Bancroft lived in an abandoned building partially destroyed by Hurricane Ivan, Crown Counsel Richard Barton Jr. told Magistrate Grace Donalds on Monday.

He asked that Bancroft, 47, be remanded in custody on a charge of overstaying while authorities investigate possible other charges.

Defence Attorney Phillip McGhee applied for bail, but it was refused.

Mr. McGhee told the court that Bancroft had married a Caymanian in 2006. ‘Sadly, it turned out that the man was already married. That is the source of all her problems,’ he said.

But the Crown’s objection to bail was based on Bancroft’s alleged lack of cooperation with Immigration officers, Mr. Barton said. Her marriage had taken place in October, two days before her scheduled departure.

On 22 February she was granted permission to stay until 22 May. The final date of her departure was later put to 18 June.

Mr. Barton said officers made numerous attempts to have her come in and regularise her immigration status. She failed to make herself available until as recently as 1 August.

At one point she informed authorities that she was living in West Bay. It was only through information received that she was discovered in an abandoned house with no running water and no lights. Urine was found in portions of the building.

Bancroft had no fixed place of abode, Mr. Barton concluded, and the Crown feared that if she were released she would continue to flout Immigration laws.

Mr. McGhee countered that if there had been any failure to cooperate, it was because Bancroft feared losing her status on the island. He noted two occasions in June when she did attend Immigration and attempted to regularise her stay.

She had been here a number of years on a work permit, he said.

Mr. McGhee said Bancroft denied living in the abandoned house. She had used the property to store items, but lived with her husband. Now she could not live with him any more, but there was someone else who would provide a residence.

There was nothing to say Bancroft was not of good character, Mr. McGhee pointed out. The court could grant bail with conditions such as curfew and reporting, he suggested.

The magistrate ruled that Bancroft would continue in custody, citing the defendant’s previous lack of cooperation with authorities and the fact that investigations were ongoing.

She adjourned the matter for one week, until 3 September.

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