FORMER public administration minister Marlene McDonald is yet to access her $2 million bail leaving her in a legal limbo. The Port of Spain South MP remains warded at hospital.
Newsday spoke with a former senior state attorney who said McDonald's situation is very peculiar. McDonald who did not appear in court on Monday was granted bail in absentia after the court heard, through her attorney Pamela Elder SC, that she was warded at St Clair Medical Centre. The attorney said usually when an accused is taken to court and granted bail but unable to access it by the end of the court day, they are given a remand warrant that would allow the prison to take them.
McDonald never appeared in court and the former state attorney said that was where the peculiarity lay since the remand warrant is usually made out and given to the prisoner. Without it she is unable to enter the prison should she not access bail before being discharged from hospital. A defence attorney said the first issue was the fact that the charges were read concerning McDonald although she was absent which in itself was rare for first appearances. The defence attorney added that McDonald, if discharged, should be taken to prison until her bail is processed.
A senior magistrate told Newsday that McDonald, if discharged before the bail is approved, will have to be taken to court immediately and the charges read to her since the court cannot issue a remand warrant to prison in absentia. As long as McDonald remains hospitalised while her bail is being accessed she is safe from both police and prison custody, the senior magistrate said.
McDonald, who is also Port of Spain South MP who is also a PNM deputy political leader, faces seven charges: two for conspiracy to defraud, four for alleged misbehaviour in public office and one for money laundering.
McDonald was charged along with her common-law husband Michael Carew and Victor McEachrane for allegedly attempting to defraud the Government by procuring funds for the Calabar Foundation which was identified as a charity group. Carew was granted $500,000 bail which is yet to be accessed. He remains in prison until his bail is approved. Former National Commission for Self Help Ltd chairman Edgar Zephyrine was granted $1 million bail while Victor McEachrane was granted $400,000 bail. Both men will remain in custody until their bail is approved. Wayne Anthony who was granted $100,000 was the only person to access his bail on Monday and was allowed to go home.