Accused prison officer claims he was blackmailed
A prison officer, who unlawfully brought letters and photographs into Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds, said he did it because he was being blackmailed by an inmate.
Shawn McDonald Herbert, an officer with the Barbados Prison Service for the past eight years, made the revelation Friday in the District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court after he pleaded guilty to three offences under the Prisons Act.
The 41-year-old resident of Olivies Gap, Tudor Bridge, St Michael admitted to giving a number of letters and photographs to prisoner Fabian Jones without lawful authority; bringing a number of letters and photographs out of Her Majesty Prison Dodds without lawful authority; and attempting, without lawful authority, to convey a number of letters and photographs to Jones.
The offences allegedly occurred between June 17 and September 14, 2016.
According to the facts read by police prosecutor Sergeant Martin Rock, Herbert came in contact with the inmate through his attachment with the sanitation department at the penal institution.
Jones allegedly asked Herbert to do him a favour by contacting someone on the outside, to which the accused man consented. Herbert reportedly made contact with a woman who later gave him a cell phone number so Jones could contact her through the prison service.
That arrangement apparently went on for sometime until Jones allegedly made a second request of the prison officer – this time to take correspondence, which he again agreed too.
Rock disclosed that on September 3, Jones informed the woman that his cell had been searched and certain items were found, including photos which she would have sent to him.
Acting on information 11 days later, prison officers searched Herbert’s locker and discovered a white envelope in his right shoe containing three letters and a small picture.
Herbert denied knowledge of the items at first, but later admitted to the offence saying that Jones gave it to him for the woman.
The woman in question was also interviewed by police and turned over 19 letters, which she indicated were brought to her by Herbert from Jones.
However, taking into consideration Herbert’s work experience, the prison’s rules and the Prisons Act, Acting Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch asked the accused man what would have compelled him to go against the regulations.
“Sir, I was stupid, I am so sorry,” Hebert replied softly, to which the acting chief magistrate replied, “You have given up your job, your pension and on the verge of giving up your freedom”.
“I am trying to figure out what inducement [could have been] offered out to you to make you betray the State, to make you betray your fellow officers . . . that could possibility justify this?”
Herbert, who held his head down at intervals as Birch addressed him, responded: “I went out with a girl a night and it turned out to be a guy . . . so he had that over my head.”
However, Birch was not impressed and he countered that Herbert’s next stop should have been to the District ‘C’ Police Station and the Superintendent’s office.
“I am sorry Sir,” Herbert said again, to which Birch replied: “Mr Herbert, this is one of those times that sorry is cold comfort, you can’t make wrong things right . . . you have betrayed your comrades, you undermined the security at Her Majesty’s Prison.”
A presentencing report was ordered by the District ‘C’ Magistrate who remanded Hebert to jail until September 23, pending sentencing.
He is to be segregated from the general prison populace.
The accused prison officer was today transported to the St Philip based penal institution by two officers in a police jeep.