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Jul 21, 2017

Bail for David and Anke Doehm; Court Unconvinced They are Flight Risks

David & Anke Doehm

This morning, the American couple accused of cruelty and neglect of thirteen-year-old Faye Lin Cannon appeared before Supreme Court Justice Denis Hanomansingh, seeking bail. David and Anke Doehm got it after a lengthy hearing and as of this evening, they are out on bail of ten thousand dollars each and a surety. Despite the heavy objections of the prosecuting authority, the argument that they had lost all they had – job, business, their remaining adopted children – and had no further reason to stay was also a basis, according to their attorneys, for them to fight on. News Five’s Aaron Humes has all sides of the story in this report.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

David and Anke Doehm began this Friday morning being hustled up the steps of the Supreme Court to await their application for bail. It was granted after the stroke of noon despite the arguments of prosecutor Jacqueline Willoughby of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

 

Jacqueline Willoughby

Jacqueline Willoughby, Crown Counsel

“It is the position of our office that they have become a flight risk. One of the issues is you have to be able take care of yourself in Belize. Their business is down; one of the petitioners has been released of his employment; they really have no other means here, they have no property. The issue of the children are in Human Services; there are matters before other courts, that custody is being sought by the adoptive father. It is our view, in our office, that there is really no reason for them to stay here. This charge will yield them prison time of up to ten years. But at the end of the day, it is in the discretion of the judge to determine whether or not he would give bail.”

 

The defense – Richard “Dickie” Bradley and Senior Counsel Ellis Arnold – maintain that their clients should not be punished with removal of their liberty due to their financial status or public sentiment.

 

Richard “Dickie” Bradley

Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney for David Doehm

“The arguments to support that ground of objection were not forthcoming. In the affidavit of the police officer which went to something like twenty-eight or twenty-nine paragraphs, was a chronology of him being called by the very accused persons to say that the child appears to be very sick and is not breathing; and so they are just recounting that ‘we went to the house; we met the family members, we saw the child on the bed, she was not breathing; we did this, we called the doctor, we then did that, we did this, we did that…gone on and on for paragraphs but did not tackle the issue that is the sole ground of objection, meaning will these people cut out the moment they get, or as soon as they get an opportunity to leave the country? There was nothing to substantiate that. You may have heard our learned friend, the Crown Counsel, say that Mr. Doehm was working at one of the local airlines and had lost his job; when we were shown the letter, it was a panicked decision to respond by saying, ‘Oh! We don’t really want you working here when those kinds of allegations are flying around your head;’ but he was working for the past five years that he stayed in this country. Both parents are permanent residents; their passports has in that they are permanent residents of our country, they had in fact started the process to apply for citizenship. So the ground that they are flight risks was not enough to convince a judge in the Supreme Court to lock them up until 2018 or 2019.”

 

Faye Lin Cannon

Bradley is referring to the notional trial date in the Supreme Court, although it was agreed in the Magistrate’s Court that disclosure would be given at the next court date on August twenty-fourth and a preliminary inquiry would be held on October seventh in Belize City. He told News Five that the court’s conditions are to ensure that there is no repeat of what happened with David Nanes Schnitzer or Zurisaday Villasenor Mendez, foreign nationals that previously skipped bail and never returned to face their charges.

 

Richard “Dickie” Bradley

“You can’t punish me if somebody never lived up to their conditions. You can’t look at all persons and bring up ‘Remember wah time deh mi gi da boy bail and ih mi gaan and noh come back,’ and then you will use that to punish me? That is not how the justice system works; each case is on its own merits. If you do not turn up, you are a fugitive from justice; you have to hide the rest of your life until you are caught. In this particular case, you will see that in fact the judge took extra steps to protect the system, in the sense that now the American Embassy – the mighty United States of America through their Embassy – is to make sure that they do not go to America or Canada or anywhere through any facilitation from them. Where are they going to go? If they go to States they will bring them back; how will you reach States if you don’t have a passport? What sometimes happens, I should say to you because I do know – what does happen sometimes, an American citizen says nothing to their Embassy, claims to have misplaced or lost the passport, and they give him a temporary travel document; the judge has covered up that loophole. No system is foolproof. But remember the principle the judge is there to uphold: the liberty of a person. I can’t lock you up because somebody ran away, that has nothing to do with them. If they run they will regret it; they will be caught and brought back to Belize.”

 

But Susana Eiley, a San Pedro resident who sat in court and was an unofficial ‘social worker’ on the island for many years, takes that with a grain of salt.

 

Susana Eiley, San Pedro Resident

“I know what is justice system; we don’t have no justice. (Crying)”

 

Reporter

“You believe they will flee the country?”

 

Susana Eiley

Susana Eiley

“Yes, they will, like everybody does.”

 

Reporter

“And now what happens? You and twenty people thought it important to come out here today but you failed.”

 

Susana Eiley

“I know justice will be done. There’s one person they can’t run from, he’s up there. But they have no conscience, they’re the coldest [inaudible] in this world.  It’s so sad.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Copies of the order are to be served on the Chief Magistrate and the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan; the latter are also to take custody of the couple’s U.S. passports until the case is concluded. The Doehms are to report to the Queen Street Police Station between seven-thirty a.m. and four p.m. on Mondays beginning on July thirty-first until the conclusion of the case and are to attend all hearings beginning on August twenty-fourth until the case concludes. They are barred from leaving the country and are not to interfere with any prosecution witnesses.

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