Wrongfully incarcerated Colin Bailey details horrors of prison; to sue the state
Colin Bailey, 57, spent five and half years incarcerated for the capital offence of murder, even though there was no evidence against him.
Bailey, who was charged with the August 2013 murder of his reputed wife Sirmattie Ramnaress, on Monday spoke publicly since being freed from prison and described the horrors he faced while there.
Bailey served time in three prisons where he was attacked, suffered a minor heart attack, and contracted the novel coronavirus.
The ex-police sergeant, at a media briefing at the Hughes, Field, and Stoby Law Office in Georgetown, said he intends to sue the state.
“My life was totally devastated,” he told the media.
“I would like to say that I think the system, according to what the judge said, should really be looked at and what I went through I am not just going to allow this to go by,” Bailey stated.
Bailey was freed on October 13, 2021, after the State failed to present witnesses to pin him to the crime; he was represented by attorneys Nigel Hughes, Konyo Sandiford, and Ronald Daniels.
Justice Jo-Ann Barlow in making her decision at the Demerara High Court where Bailey was on trial for the capital offence of murder, said that he should not have been before the court and that it was a waste of judicial time.
Bailey’s attorneys are now calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the prosecutorial arm of the state where persons are incarcerated, detained, and prosecuted.
“We are calling into question any judicial officer, any police officer, any person that is discharging functions on behalf of the state to say proffer the charge and let the court decide, let the magistrate decide, let the judge decide,” Sandiford said.
Sandiford said no one should be before the court unless there is a lawful reason for them to be there.
Specifically for Bailey’s case, the attorneys have engaged the Bar Association and are awaiting a response.
“Of course, we would write formally, making our recommendations and we can only remain optimistic that given the magnitude of this issue that it would be treated with the type of seriousness that is warranted,” Donalds stated.
Meanwhile, Bailey has always protested his innocence. He said he and Ramnaress met in 1992 and started living together. At the time of her death, they were building a house in Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
He explained that on the day his wife was found murdered he was on duty at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport for a state visit by the President of Venezuela.
He explained that he called home as per normal and got no answer. He did not think anything was amiss, but he later received a call that his wife was lying on the ground of their Diamond house.
He was then relieved of duty and went home. There, Bailey said he assisted with the police investigations and listed the items that were stolen from their home during the alleged robbery and murder.
He was later taken to the Ruimveldt Police Station where he had to give a statement.
The police continued their investigations and Bailey went back to work.
However, in 2015 he was charged for bribery and corruption and dismissed from the Police Force. Bailey had served in the Police Force for almost two decades.
Later that same year, he was contacted by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and was told they have information on who might have been involved in his wife’s murder.
However, Bailey explained that his wife was a franchise holder for Chief brand products, and prior to her being murdered, she had won a civil lawsuit of some $33 million against some business partners.
“I personally was thinking they had something to do with it,” Bailey stated.
Then in November 2015 he was called to CID Headquarters and shown an individual – whom he claimed to be a neighbour – and who was allegedly involved in the murder.
Bailey claimed he was also showed a laptop and diamond ring that investigators had recovered and which belonged to his wife.
In a shocking twist of events, four days later Bailey was again called into the CID Headquarters, but this time on allegations that he had paid a hitman, Colin Grant to kill his wife.
Grant, who claimed he carried out the murder for money, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on October 12 and will be sentenced on November 2, 2021.
Meanwhile, Bailey was initially charged for murdering his wife on November 24, 2016. The Director of Public Prosecution had recommended charges against him.
“At that stage, I really didn’t understand what he [an inspector] was saying because it was strange to me, but as it is I was taken from CID headquarters to Sparendaam Police Station where I was placed in the lock-ups; on the 24th I came to court and (was) charged for murder,” Bailey explained.
Horrifying prison experience
Bailey was first taken to the Camp Street Prison in Georgetown. Shortly after there was a riot at Camp Street Prison, which also saw the facility being set on fire in March 2017. During the riot, Bailey claimed he was attacked, and rescued by a prison officer.
He was then taken to Lusignan Prison, however, another fire was set to that facility in July 2020, and Bailey was yet again transferred to the Timehri Prison on the East Bank of Demerara.
“Prison of itself is a story that people really might not understand in the sense that people think that everyone in prison, they have done something and perhaps it is good for them and that is where they should be,” Bailey said.
In all three of these prisons, Bailey said he was confronted with “all manner of bad things.”
He described the horrors of the sleeping areas, bathroom facilities, and sharing space with mentally unstable inmates.
“It was really bad there for me because it is strange the things you see, the things you do, how you have to conduct yourself; eating, sleeping, bathing talking to people, cause you might very well speak to a prisoner now and he responds to you, but the very next morning you are in a for a slap or a cuff or a cuss out,” Bailey explained.
He is also alleging the unprofessional manner prison officers treat prisoners.
“The attitude is more oppressive than any other thing I could ever think of, you cannot get them to understand what you want or what you would like to have.”
Additionally, when there were prison searches, Bailey recalls being stripped naked in the most humiliating manner and was asked to “drop, skin and spin.”
Bailey is now hopeful of helping other incarcerated persons who were handed the same fate he was.