Give me what is mine!
Former prisoner Shurland Boyce says he intends to fight to recover several personal items which he claimed were lost or stolen during the Glendairy Prison fire in 2005.
Boyce, who was released last year, said a gold ring with diamonds valued at CAN$46 000 (BDS$89 083), five watches – three silver and two gold – and a pair of gold earrings were among the many items which were never returned to him when he left prison.
“I wrote the Superintendent 26 times and he has never responded,” Boyce said. “I wrote the Ombudsman four times and he only responded after the fourth letter to let me know that they were investigating.”
Producing three pages of an inventory of the items which were recorded by the police when he was arrested in 1995, Boyce said they were the only proof he had of the items since the prison records were destroyed in the fire. Also among the long list of items was US$998.
“My friend Matthew Deane was there when the police recorded the items and he signed the paper as well,” Boyce added. All of the items were at the prison when he arrived there, he said.
Regarding the expensive ring, Boyce explained that a Canadian woman put the ring on his finger and decided to let him keep it after she could not get it off.
“She had her insurance company send me the insurance documents for the ring in case I wanted to reinsure it. When the police arrested me they contacted her to verify that she gave me the ring.”
Boyce said that when he entered Glendairy Prison he was allowed to keep the ring on his finger because officers there could not get it off.
“On the day of the fire a prison officer came up to me and grab my hand and force off the ring. I?saw him put it in his pocket and I have not seen it since,” Boyce said pointing to the circular imprint on his finger which still remains to this day. He added that the ring contained 14 diamonds.
Regarding the two Rolex gold watches, Boyce said one day he was being taken to the hospital when he noticed a prison officer wearing one of the watches.
“I kept looking at it and when he realized I was looking he said to me ‘you like you want to say that this is yours’ and he took it off his hand and put it in his pocket.”
Boyce added that while he was in prison he heard other inmates also complaining about not getting their property. “I heard that the Superintendent told inmates that Government said they can’t get back anything which was destroyed in the fire. But one day someone from the Solicitor General’s office came to the prison and I?asked him about my property and he said I?will be given back those which could be found and compensated for those which could not be replaced and that sounded reasonable to me.”
However, Boyce said he was very disappointed when he was finally released from prison to discover that all he was given was $189 representing his earnings.
“I spoke to Sir David Simmons [former Chief Justice] and he told me that my property was under the control of the crown and I must be reimbursed. If I?was found with anything after the fire I would have been charged with theft of property from the crown.
“This situation is being minimized in every which way. All of the inmates are in this predicament and nobody is doing anything about it. My property was under the jurisdiction of the crown and the crown must compensate me,” he argued.
When contacted Ombudsman Valton Bend said his office could not discuss the matter because it involved the prison.
However, an officer at the prison denied Boyce’s claims.
Requesting that his name not be published, the officer said that the only item which Boyce ever complained about losing was a pair of spectacles and he was subsequently given a new pair by an optician.
He charged that Boyce would not have been allowed to wear any jewellery while in prison. “We would have found a way to get that ring off his finger. He knows the book was destroyed and he is making all of these claims that he had all of these items and that is not true.”