This could be you. Or me. Or any one of our friends or family.
Jovaine is a bright 26 year old man, a Jamaican citizen, an aspiring musician with a great voice, a wicked sense of humour, and a gentle soul.
Since 2013 Jovaine’s life has been turned upside down. Jovaine has gone from a musician and songwriter, running his own business, to not being able to feed himself everyday, and having extreme anxiety and likely depression. He has been subject to a daily curfew with police checks, and his passport has been seized so he is unable to travel, all for a crime he did not commit. He is still awaiting his case to come to court, this has understandably taken a toll on his mental state. He has also spent all of his savings on legal representation, and has now, quite simply, run out of money.
As the eldest son in a fatherless household, he provides financial support to his mother and at least one younger sibling for education fees as they try to keep him in school. All of his savings are gone. He makes the tough choice almost every day of eating or giving money to his family to support them. I have known him to go days without food, in order to provide for his younger brother, which is quite simply, heartbreaking.
Only a few months ago he was involved in a motorbike accident and is unable to work properly until he has recovered. Even then, any wages he can get will not cover even a fraction of the fees needed to continue to run an adequate defence in his case, which is at a critical stage. He only has limited time to raise enough money to find a new lawyer, and I am setting up this page to get him the legal assistance he rightly deserves and desperately needs.
Four years ago, Jovaine went out to visit a friend when his life was irreversibly changed. Whilst on his way to an apartment in a housing complex, he found an unmarked bag and wanted to alert staff to its presence, only to be accused of the bag being his. As it turns out, there was supposedly ammunition at the bottom of the bag, buried under other items. Having ended up in a dispute with some security guards over this, they called the police and he was subsequently charged with a criminal offence relating to the unlawful possession of ammunition in the gun court of Jamaica. Jovaine now faces the risk of a significant custodial sentence, of up to fifteen years, with possible hard labour, despite having no previous convictions, for simply trying to help.
The Gun Court is the branch of the Jamaican judicial system that tries criminal cases involving firearms and related charges. The long sentences of the Gun Court and its restrictions on the rights of the accused have been subject to much criticism, and the Gun Court system has also been the target of criticism because of its lengthy delay in hearing cases.
In Jovaine's case, it is also possible that there will be no trial by jury if the judge so decides. If Jovaine were to go to prison, not only would this be devastating for him and his future, but the effect on his family would be equally devastating.
How you can help
It is estimated that the legal costs of continuing to run this case will be around £4,000. Jovaine currently earns less than $10 a day. So he has no chance of making any money in time, despite having tried so hard and maintained legal representation until recently. If 200 people gave just £20 each, that would be enough. So, in the spirit of giving for a good cause, I humbly ask you to consider supporting this cause.
All of the money raised will go towards legal representation only, and if I do manage to reach the target or anything over the necessary legal costs, the rest will be donated to a clearly identified charity to help those in a similar situation. Equally if you wanted to donate for basic things such as food and shelter, any donations can also go towards that. So please, give whatever you can, and please also send on to any friends, family, coworkers or colleagues that you think might be interested. Even raising awareness about what is happening in the justice system there is part of the goal.
No one should have to go through this, and not for so long. Access to justice matters. I believe we can make a real difference here, and allow him to live his life and to enable him to give back to others in the future. I also believe that justice can be done.
What am I doing?
I came across Jovaine's case whilst doing some other work out in Jamaica. As a lawyer, I believe his case is worth fighting, and that justice can be done. I am unable to represent him myself due to jurisdictional rules, and so am in the process of securing new and adequate local representation. And that doesn't come cheap.
On my own time and money, I attended Jovaine's hearing in February 2018 and advised on the hearing in May 2018 and will be assisting as much as I can with his case beforehand before final trial in October 2018. I have in the meantime already provided financial support for his daily needs just to keep him afloat, as well as legal support regarding his rights and access to relevant information, in order to sustain him through this difficult period. If I could run this case myself, I would, without a doubt.
So please, give what you can and share where you can, and hopefully we can make a difference.
If you have any queries do not hesitate to contact me.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading.