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Nov 6, 2014

Mediation Fails in Pickwoad Land Dispute

In Wednesday’s newscast, we reported that a land dispute between Bernadette Pickwoad and Maud Williams, over a piece of property located in Belama Phase One, had been adjourned pending the outcome of court-ordered mediation.  While both parties had been looking forward to a satisfactory conclusion, things have seemingly taken a different turn overnight.  This morning, we were informed by attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd that the matter has proceeded to trial since they could not arrive at a mutually agreeable solution, despite the intercession of the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Meanwhile, Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos, who is also scheduled to appear before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, is out sick, forcing an adjournment of the matter to November twenty-seventh.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Bernadette Pickwoad

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“We just started trial and so we led all the witnesses for the claimants which were three witnesses and then the defendants, the fourth and fifth defendants had their witnesses as well which were only Ms. Maud Williams and Mr. Mervin Castillo.  The Commissioner of Lands who is one of the main witnesses for the defense, for the government, is presently ill.  They believe he has possibly, we don’t know what it is, some high fevers.  He did send in a medical form yesterday so he’s not able to come and testify so we cannot proceed with trial.  If he was here the trial would have actually concluded today.  So we have adjourned to November twenty-seventh, that’s when the matter will continue.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Can you explain to us how it went from being in a mediation session yesterday to now this trial where we’re seeing both parties contend for the same piece of land?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well you see the way the process works is that my client has to travel so it doesn’t make sense for us to come all the way here and us not to start the trial.  It doesn’t mean that from now to November twenty-seventh there wouldn’t be our own form of mediation.  The court always encourages that and we as attorneys we know that we need to be amenable by that because while you go to the court for redress there are certain things that we can solve.  And I must say that the Ministry of Natural Resources which is in between the two parties is also amenable and the other parties.  So we can’t say how it will go but it’s just a safeguard because it will be difficult that if our mediation doesn’t work, our own voluntary mediation doesn’t work that my client has to fly back into the country to deal with this.  So it’s just being practical, doing some time management and still hoping for the best.  So we just had witnesses testify and we have some things on the record and that’s always good because then both sides or all sides get to see how their evidence is tested.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“I was made to understand that your clients were the ones who were given an option to relocate, as opposed to after having been on the property and having held the title for twenty years they should have been the ones to remain and the newfound owner should be the one to relocate.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well I am not sure of that because I know offers were made to us but in all fairness the government should also make offers to the other side and I think they did but they wouldn’t tell us until we meet all three together.  So while is being made to us one clearly must be made to them but I don’t know the details of that one made to them.”

 

In December 2013, Pickwoad learned that the title to the lease property at the intersection of Chetumal Boulevard and Albert Hoy Avenue had also been granted to Maud and Mervin Williams, the mother and son of Beverly Castillo, former C.E.O. in the Ministry of Natural Resources.  By that time work had commenced on developing the parcel.  A subsequent injunction has since brought development to a standstill pending the decision of the Supreme Court.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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