Prison farm was drugs-drop

| 27/11/2009

(CNS): HMP Northward’s Wilderness Farm has been revealed as a drop for drugs and mobile phones, as well as a place where inmates would meet people outside the prisons official visiting system. During the trial of Randy Martin, a serving Northward prisoner who is charged with the murder of 21-year old Sabrina Schirn, two inmates, both currently serving time at Northward and Eagle House, said that drugs were smuggled into the prison via the East End farm facility, which has since been closed. The prisoners inferred that friends, family and girlfriends would also routinely meet with inmates there and bring them contraband.

On a day when the court heard from eight prosecution witnesses that included close friends ofSchirn, her brother, her employer, a worker on a farm close to the Wilderness property, and two Northward inmates, it was also revealed that security at the prison farm, when it was operational, did not appear to be very tight. Inmates said prisoners used the farm as a meeting place and a drugs drop. It was also revealed that, while mobile phones are strictly prohibited at prison, a number of inmates have them and use them to keep in touch withfriends and family.

Derek Bush (20), who is a serving  a sentence for armed robbery in the young offenders unit, Eagle House, reluctantly told the court that many prisoners had mobile phones and that the farm was known as a place where weed would be smuggled to inmates.

Testifying that he had been in a relationship with Sabrina Schirn before he was sent to prison, he admitted that he had passed her number to the defendant Martin when he asked for it, as Martin had said he wanted her to do something for him. Bush also confirmed that he had smoked weed (ganja) that Martin had given him that he said Schirn had brought to the prison farm.

When pressed for more details about the weed and who had mobile phones in the prison, where they and the drugs were kept, as well as other serving prisoners, by defence counsel David Evans QC, Bush became increasingly reluctant to talk. He eventually told the court he had nothing more to say as he said all he had come to say and refused to answer any more questions. Pressed by the Judge, Charles Quin, who explained to Bush that if he didn’t help the court with the truth he could be held in contempt and serve further time, the inmate resumed his answers.

He confirmed that he knew Lance Myles, who is currently serving 20 year sentence for attempted murder, and that he had also had a relationship with Schirn and that he was related to the defendant.

During the day’s testimony it was revealed that Sabrina Schirn had been in a relationship with a number of young men who had been in and out of prison, including Lance Myles, who friends and family said was not serving time in March of 2009, when Sabrina was murdered.  

Three of Sabrina’s best friends gave emotional testimony and described her as an outgoing girl who was fun to be with, hard working and very likeable. The friends all told how worried they were when Sabrina went missing and how they had searched for her. They indicated that Sabrina had a number of boyfriends, some of whom she was dating around the time of her murder, and said they had heard her mention someone called Randy who was serving time in Northward. One of the friends also said that she had overheard a voice message from someone called Randy asking Schirn to pick him up from the prison farm and take him to East End.

Schirn’s friends also all confirmed that she had been in a relationship with Lance Myles in the past but that she was not associating with him around the time she was killed. They did, however, state that they were aware of threats she had received from him and his girlfriend at that time.

Schirn’s employer at Blockbuster also testified that Sabrina’s car had been vandalized twice while she was at work and that she had heard of an occasion where a man had come to the store wielding a tyre iron and had threatened Sabrina in front of customers.

The three friends of Schirn all testified how they had spoken to her on the morning of Wednesday 11 March, the day she was last seen alive, and when she told them she was going to go do something in East End. The friends all said they were expecting to meet with her later that day. But when she did not answer her phone, which they said she was never without, they began to get very worried and began a search that evening of places she liked to go.

Schirn’s brother also testified how he had co-ordinated a search with friends and family all over the island in the days following her disappearance. Kevin Jennings told the court that he had also visited Lance Myles, who he said had denied seeing her at all for weeks before and who had stammered and behaved differently once he knew that Jennings was Sabrina’s brother.

Jennings told the court that, after the car she was driving was found in East End in High Rock Road, they had begun combing that area. He told the court that he had a friend in the search group that knew East End well and was helping direct them up secluded roads in the vicinity of where the car was found. Jennings then described how he had come across Sabrina’s body along one of the dirt tracks, he saw that she had suffered multiple chop wounds and then called the police recognising he was standing in a crime scene.

During the day’s hearing a second inmate from Northward prison, who dealt with maintenance at the Wilderness Farm, had testified how he had seen a white car go past the prison facility at around 10:35 or so the morning of 11 March, which he said was definitely driven by a woman.  He also confirmed that there had been trouble at the farm with inmates meeting people and getting drugs at the farm and bringing them back to the jail.

A maintenance worker from the Lookloy farm, located next to the prison farm, also testified that he had seen a white car parked on the High Rock Road that day as he was watering the plants. He said he had then seen a prisoner come across the Lookloy property without a shirt and then get in the car which reversed out of its spot and then drove away.

The murder trial which is being heard by judge alone continues before Justice Quin on Friday morning when the prosecution will call more its extensive witness list.

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