Father denies child abuse, claims temporary insanity
Bail refused By Iana Seales
Stabroek News
February 14, 2004

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A section of the crowd assembled in the Providence Magistrate's Court compound in support of the four children who were allegedly abused by their father. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

A father charged with brutalising his four children at their Mocha home, made his second court appearance yesterday and was denied pre-trial liberty.

Colin Henry, 41, of 583 Mocha Arcadia was remanded to prison after he entered a plea of not guilty before Magistrate Adrian Thompson at the Providence Magistrate's Court. The matter will resume on February 27.

Henry faced three counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm. It is alleged that on January 31 he unlawfully and maliciously inflicted grievous bodily harm on Colin Henry, 11; Isaiah Henry 10; Whitney Henry, 9 and Ezekiel Henry 7.

Reports are that he severely beat the children with an electric cord after he returned home from work on the day in question and found that several chores in the home were not done.

A teacher at the Mocha Primary School spotted wounds on one of the children and reported the beating. Police later detained the accused.

Henry who had pleaded guilty at the first hearing retained attorney-at-law Gwendolyn Bristol and changed his plea to not guilty yesterday.

Defence counsel cited temporary insanity as the reason behind the beatings in an unsuccessful bail application. She explained that the accused lost his cool and went berserk, adding that this is not his usual behaviour.

Bristol told the court that Henry cared for his children in a single-parent household for several years and always had their best interests at heart. She said that the children were removed from their grandparents' home for good reasons and placed in the father's care.

During the years, the accused never inflicted severe beatings and saw to his young ones' every need, according to defence counsel. After a hard day at work, he had returned home and beat the children after he learned that the chores in the home were not completed. Conceding that the beatings were severe Bristol said the accused would stay away from the children if he were granted bail. She pointed out that the offence is a bailable one. In addition, she said, the accused will attend court to answer the charges.

Police Prosecutor Huburn Devonish, objecting to bail being granted, said there was another charge of a more serious nature pending against the accused that will be filed shortly.

Rebutting defence counsel's arguments, he said the accused cannot lose the capacity to control himself, severely beat his children then claim temporary insanity. Devonish pointed out that though Henry entered a plea of not guilty, by claiming temporary insanity, he is admitting to committing the acts. According to the prosecutor, this contradicts his denial of the offence.

He said further that if the accused is granted bail it is likely that he will visit the children. Devonish argued that the children are the main witnesses in the case and there was the likelihood that they would be affected mentally by such a visit, which would change the prosecution's case.

Magistrate Thompson, in refusing bail, cited several grounds: firstly that there is no existing court order preventing the accused from seeing the children; secondly that the issue of parental influence arises should the accused manage to exchange words with the children; thirdly that the accused has a charge pending.

The quiet in the courtroom was shattered briefly during the hearing yesterday when family members of the children reacted to the change of plea. Asked to leave the courtroom or remain silent by the court orderly two females exited and aired their disapproval outside.

An angry crowd which turned out to support the children assembled outside and verbally abused the father. Armed with placards which read, "Jail the beast", "Stop the abuse" and "Daddy stained our lives" the gathering threatened to beat Henry after the court hearing.

The police were forced to carry Henry out the back of the court because of the threats but the crowd followed and unleashed verbal abuse when they spotted the accused.

The man remained silent and faced the crowd with a smirk on his face.