Arrest warrant for cop in child neglect case

A MAGISTRATE on Thursday ordered the arrest of a police officer for failing to attend court to testify for the prosecution in the case of a mother charged with wilful neglect of her two young children.

PC Adrian Sortio is to be granted $3,000 bail upon arrest, senior magistrate Jo-Ann Connor ordered in the San Fernando magistrates' court. His appearance has been pending at court hearings of the preliminary inquiry despite summonses to attend court being issued and served on him.

The inquiry continued before the magistrate into how the boy and his sister were left alone in a house at Caratal Village, Gasparillo, on the night of December 14. Connor has to determine whether the police have adduced sufficient evidence against the children's mother, Candace Dieal, 38, to stand trial before a judge and jury on two counts of wilful neglect.

Several police witnesses already testified, including WPCs Nicole St John (Child Protection Unit) and Leslie Ann Halls. Dieal's neighbour, Alwyn Williams, gave evidence last week.

On Thursday, police prosecutor Cleyon Seedan called Woman Police Corporal Rhona Charles to testify about summonses served on Adrian Sortio to attend court. He is the last police witness in the inquiry. She said she served Sortio two summonses, the last one on Monday at the Gasparillo Police Station, where he is stationed.

They ordered Sortio to attend Thursday's hearing, when Seedan was expected to lead evidence from him. He is one of two police officers who first responded to a report that two children were asleep alone in the house.

After Charles' evidence, Seedan asked Connor for a bench warrant to be issued for Sortio's arrest, and she complied. Seedan also asked for the police be given seven days to execute the warrant.

When a bench warrant is issued, standard procedure requires that the summons is read to the person, who is then handcuffed and put in a cell. He or she will be made to sign a document and then released in accordance with the magistrate's order that the bail be taken by him.

The case was adjourned to next week Friday.

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