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Prison officer charged!

The president of the Prison Officers Association of Barbados has been slapped with four charges related to inciting mutiny or sedition at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds, St Philip.

Before being granted station bail at District ‘C’ Police Station this afternoon, Trevor Browne, a prison officer with 34 years of service under his belt, was informed of the charges while in custody for allegedly encouraging other prison officers to stage a sick out at the prison.

Browne is charged that between May 1 and 9, he maliciously endeavored to seduce prison officer Shanell Ellis-Vaughn from her duty and did the same thing to Ophneal Austin, David Davis and Stephenson Trotman during the same period.

The prison officer is expected to appear before the District ‘C’ Magistrate’s Court located at St Matthias, Christ Church tomorrow morning to answer the charges.

If convicted, he faces up to one year in the same jail where he earns his living.

Browne was charged under Section 27, Chapter 168 of the Prison Act which states that any person who, directly or indirectly, instigates, commands, counsels or solicits any meeting, sedition or disobedience to any lawful command of a prison officer to any other prison officer, or maliciously endeavors to seduce any prison officer from his allegiance or duty, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of one year.

This same Act also explains that its provisions cover persons who incite or abet desertion and sedition.

Sedition refers to conduct or speech which incites persons to rebel against authority. This rebellion may encourage insurrection against the established order or resistance against established authority.

But industrial relations consultant to the Prison Officers Association and general secretary of the Unity Trade Union Senator Caswell Franklyn described Browne’s arrest and charge as a sad day in the life of the country.

“The workers’ representatives movement in Barbados – trade unions and staff associations – for that to happen to one of them as a result of exposing themselves to represent workers, it’s a sad day,” Senator Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.

Just last month, and in a separate matter, Browne made a bid for his boss, Superintendent of Prisons John Nurse, to be held in contempt of a court order to have him (Browne) promoted and paid damages.

Browne has already instructed his lawyers to apply for the contempt order in the High Court.

The move by Browne stems from an earlier successful lawsuit against the prison boss as the first defendant and the Attorney General as the second, in which he claims he was superseded by junior colleagues.

On September 4, Justice William Chandler ordered the prison superintendent to have the claimant appointed to act in the post of orderly officer and that damages be paid to him.

In a letter dated October 25 and addressed to attorney Gregory Nicholls, Browne drew attention to an even earlier court appearance before Justice Dr Sonia Richards last December 2017, when he recalled her ruling that the parties involved in the matter before her should return to the status quo prior to the start of the case, until a final settlement is reached.

Browne contended in correspondence that despite the ruling, members of the executive of the Prison Officers’ Association were not allowed unhindered access to their office.

The prison officer therefore instructed Nicholls to “urgently file all relevant documents to this court, the Chief Justice or the Duty Judge, indicating that the Superintendent of Prison stands in contempt of court as it regards the order”.

Since then, Browne, in a letter dated October 30, has issued similar instructions to lawyers David and Sally Comissiong based on the September 4 ruling of Justice Chandler. The disgruntled prison officer contends he has not yet benefited from the order.

The judge had ruled that the claimant was entitled to be paid the salary of an orderly officer during the period he worked as such; that he was wrongfully passed over for promotion by not being appointed to act in available posts of orderly officer between April 4, 2009 and September 30, 2015 and that he merits being appointed to the post whenever it next became available.

“It is further ordered that the claimant shall be paid as damages, the difference between the salary of an orderly officer and the lesser salary that he was paid for; all previous periods that he worked in the post of orderly officer but was not paid the salary of that post; and the period that he should have been appointed to act in available orderly officer posts but was not placed so,” the judge ordered.

Justice Chandler also instructed the prison chief to immediately take “appropriate” action to facilitate the claimant being appointed to act in a post of orderly officer by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

That matter is still before the High Court.

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