Arson charge sent to Grand Court

Defendant remanded in custody until Aug. 19

Vann Webb stands in the doorway of his burnt-out home last week. - PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
Vann Webb stands in the doorway of his burnt-out home on Cruz Lane. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

A woman accused of setting a fire that destroyed a number of buildings while their occupants, including two children, slept inside, had her application for bail denied Friday.

Leticia Jarrett, 37, appeared in Summary Court, where a charge of arson was transmitted to the Grand Court.

Jarrett is accused of destroying by fire a number of buildings and their contents at Cruz Lane (off Eastern Avenue) on July 31 and being reckless as to whether the life of another would thereby be endangered.

Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn first dealt with the question of which court would deal with the matter. Damaging or destroying property without lawful excuse is an offense that can be heard in either Summary Court or Grand Court. However, when the damage or destruction is by fire, the offense is charged as arson and can be heard only in the higher court.

Crown counsel Neil Kumar asked to amend the section of the law cited in the charge, in order to make clear that arson was the offense alleged.

He said authorities received a report around 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 31, that a house was on fire on Cruz Lane. Firefighters responded within minutes and found a number of buildings ablaze.

Mr. Kumar listed the people who lived in those buildings; at least two of the eight he named were children. “Many were asleep when the fire began,” he said.

He detailed the Crown’s objections to bail.

Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene made the bail application. She pointed out – and Mr. Kumar accepted – that no one indicated seeing how the fire began.

Ms. Fosuhene emphasized that prosecution witnesses had said the defendant was outside with a bucket of water trying to put out the fire. She said her client had told police she did not set any fire. There was no direct evidence that Jarrett was responsible, the attorney concluded.

In deciding against bail, the magistrate noted that the investigation was still in its early stages. She said Jarrett would have an opportunity to apply again in Grand Court.

She set the matter for mention again on Friday, Aug. 19.