BVI News

Ex-con claims prison guards allow select inmates to slip in and out

Chelsea Mutyaba being escorted from the Magistrate’s Court at John’s Hole early last year.

In the wake of a stabbing that left one inmate dead and three others injured, an ex-convict at Her Majesty’s Prison has made damning allegations into what he said transpired during the time he spent at the facility.

A little more than a year ago, Chelsea Mutyaba of Uganda was convicted for engagement in smuggling and failing to declare $23,241 while travelling through the TB Lettsome International Airport in March of 2020.

Now released and back in Africa after being imprisoned for six months, the Ugandan shared his experience in an exclusive telephone interview with BVI News on Monday, May 31.

Among the revelations, Mutyaba disclosed that select inmates were inconspicuously made to leave the prison for minutes to hours at a time at the pleasure of prison officers.

“I did witness it,” the East African claimed. “It’s something that happens often. It’s always happening. It happens but it doesn’t happen to every prisoner … Someone can stay 30 minutes, one hour, two hours,” Mutyaba alleges — claiming that the prisoners who ‘slip out’ are typically either locals or persons with lengthy sentences who have built a rapport with prison officers.

“One thing I know, there must be a relationship between the prisoners and the guards. There is a certain relationship. It’s impossible to happen if there is no relationship between the guards and the prisoners. It’s totally impossible because remember, the prisoners don’t have the keys.”

The East African said one of the windows of opportunity inmates get to leave custody and disappear is when they visit the prison’s farm.

Contraband

Mutyaba, an accountant by profession, said he understands that inmates typically leave to visit relatives and spouses, among other reasons. And when they return, he claims they regularly return with marijuana.

But that is not the only contraband he’s personally witnessed behind prison walls.

“[I’ve seen] so much contraband. You find people that got cellphones, people they’ve got weed, they’ve got those knives, people they’ve got all the nonsense — things that are not necessary to be in jail. There is no reason they (contraband) would be in jail; which is going to make other inmates insecure.”

“Remember, always, day-to-day, there are confrontations between officials and the prisoners. They want to fight, they’ve got knives; all that,” he explained.

How do weapons get inside prisons?

His statements might be the clearest indication of how inmates might come into the possession of weapons they used to maim or injure others while incarcerated.

BVI News put related questions about this matter to Petrona Davies who is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health & Social Development, which has joint responsibility for the prison.

Asked how weapons reached behind prison walls, Davies said: “If I had the answer to that I’d be much happier so we are investigating and I’m not in a position to say because I don’t have that information.”

Our news centre also contacted the Acting Superintendent of Prison, Royston Percival who declined to comment on anything related to Sunday’s incident that resulted in 29-year-old Nickhail Chambers being fatally stabbed.

Percival said he did not want to prejudice any ongoing probe. He did not entertain any other questions.

Prison searches

In series of searches of Her Majesty’s Prison throughout 2019, authorities had uncovered dozens of contraband — several of which were so dangerous, they could be used to inflict potentially fatal chop and stab wounds.

Among those weapons were a machete with a blade 10 to 12 inches long, multiple knives, several pairs of scissors, and a variety of what prison officials described as cell-made shanks.

The list of contraband recovered was not limited to weapons and also include several dozen cellular phones and cellphone chargers, cigarette lighters, drugs, alcohol, wrapping paper, among other things.

“In some cases, the items come over the prison walls, in some cases, we do have officers who are not of the moral fabric that we expect them to be of and would traffic items into the prison. We would also have visitors operating as mules and bring in items into the prison, items being trafficked in with the garbage and other things,” Prison Superintendent Verne Garde told our news centre last year.

Garde, whose contract expires in July, is currently on vacation leave.

2 guards put on ‘administrative leave’ after prison stabbing — NSC

Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

55 Comments

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  1. Wow says:

    Corruption at it’s best in the bvi

    And them get the mind to talk bad about expats

    That’s the reason why the had never wanted to stay in St Lucia prison after the hurricane

    Them right to say balsam ghaut prison is like Marriott hotel

    Who knows is them same “locals” coming out in the night to rob and kill innocent hard working people

    Then again the bvi ppl don’t like to hear the truth instead the quick to blame the expats

    Like 121
    Dislike 16
    • Fufu says:

      So, its only now he talking? Guess, everyone want their lil time in the spotlight,and I know he’s salty cause he didn’t get special treatmen,too…

      Like 10
      Dislike 122
      • ah sah says:

        so u really wanted him to talk whilst he was here really?? he have all rights to do it now he was to call name because as much as we fail to believe its happening y would you think the bvi is any different from corruption especially in prison all to some women you know u see with belly how they get pregnant and their husbands or boyfriends in jail eh some of us could point out a few prison babies didnt know we had conugal visits here lol yall so gullible here in the bvi just turn a blind eye to everything and point fingers

        Like 52
      • fufu says:

        mumu why don’t you ask why your own people don’t talk. All the inmates know who run the prison. The guy got in a lil trouble, do his time and gone back where he come from. Let him be. Every inmate know what going on

        Like 18
      • Kumba says:

        He value his life that’s why he is speaking now. Had he spoken sooner he would have been murdered.

    • Hmmm says:

      Ask yourself this question, do you know how many prison officers are ex-pats working at the prison and where the superintendent and acting superintendent from?

      Like 44
      Dislike 5
      • hmmmmm says:

        all of them. prison officers actually get loans from the inmates.

        Like 21
        • Thank youuuuuuu says:

          Truth again, some of the INMATES IS LOAN SHARKS THAT SOME OF THE OFFICERS BORROW MONEY FROM. I ALSO WONDER HOW MUCH INTEREST THE OFFICERS HAVE TO PAY BACK ON THE MONEY THEY BORROW FROM THE LOAN SHARK INMATES.

          Like 10
          Dislike 1
      • officers says:

        Do your local people apply to be prison officers when theres a vacancy? no. Ohh I forgot, its hard work and a messy place and that’s too degrading for youall.

        Like 2
        Dislike 5
    • son of the soil says:

      95% of the guards are from down island

      Like 29
      Dislike 1
      • Anonymous says:

        It’s actually 98%

        Like 10
        Dislike 1
      • spoil soil says:

        locals like you should be ashamed to even speak. If you did the job the expats wouldn’t have to come and do it, you all quick to point at somebody but 3 of your own fingers pointing back at you

        Like 9
        Dislike 4
        • Season says:

          It’s the corruption that is being addressed, see top comment. He is telling you that the guards are corrupt and they are not from here. Everybody choose where they want to work. When you do, just be honest at all times and stay clear of corruption, no matter where you are from and no fingers will have to point at all.

          By the way, since your soil ain’t spoil, you know what to do, right and top clinging on with all your 10 fingers.

    • Bipartisan says:

      You do realize many of the prison guards are expats, as is the case with police? 🏴‍☠️😳 Quit fanning the flames on an already divisive issue and focus on being objectively solution-oriented.

      Yes, if the allegation is true it was wrong. Solution: proper, consistent prison management training? Frequent rotation of guards so as to avoid prisoner-prison guard bonding? Appointment of an experienced external body of persons to check the prison operations? The possibilities are endless, but we can get better as a community if we work together and remain forward-thinking.

      PS: there’s also nothing wrong with a country wanting its citizens to occupy the highest offices in its land, the contrary would be rather foolish.

      Like 12
    • Wett Willie says:

      Too much corruption and cover up went on. How come the senior official was allowed to sleep with the female staff and he’s still working there

    • for real says:

      do not pay them while on suspensión i beg of you,
      they already double paid for not doing their jobs

    • @Wow says:

      I am the last to get in the us against them bs, but I hope you note the nationality of the person who is now dead. I find it so amusing how some persons are claimed as being from another country and supported by citizens of that place, but in cases like this all accused are from BVI and the general conclusion is that BVI is corrupt. How many locals work at the prison? What damage has the St. Lucian boos caused with the alleged sexual cabol he had running up there? Since you want to go there, the problem up the prison is all the expats who are raised here by parents with morals and who end up in jail and the workers government smiled on and offered them a opportunity to work and send their money back home. Then to add insult to injury, you got the nerve to get on a blog and say crap. God Bless the BVI. The Land of opportunity for the entire Caribbean!! May all Virgin Islanders live long and prosper!!

      Like 5
      Dislike 2
      • ... says:

        He was a Jamaican who happened to have Belonger status because of how long he lived here. But his nationality was Jamaican. So you’re point is invalid.

    • Lol says:

      He don’t got to be salty he free and they not.

  2. Acting Superintendent ? says:

    LOL, you does see thing

  3. WOW says:

    This is another failure under the Governor

    Like 10
    Dislike 16
    • @WOW says:

      You spent your whole time complaining about UK interference, but when the UK allow the locals to take control it is the Governors fault!

      Like 12
      Dislike 7
      • @@WOW says:

        Which or Who are the Locals working or in charge at the Prison? I don’t give 2cents who Vex. Must Virgin Islanders let their Territory be over thrown and be run by Ex? Where else are you all feel this since of Entitlement? Chuuupes!

        Like 4
        Dislike 4
  4. My take says:

    Get that man Vanguard from over the prison. He is a wolf in sheep clothing.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  5. Clearly says:

    Until our democracy acts like a true democracy and holds governors accountable then we will always be left to fight each other and they go free.

    Like 18
    Dislike 9
  6. Watchy Watchy says:

    Stop da watchy watchy f#(%

    Like 7
    Dislike 14
  7. YBM says:

    So Mr.Mutyaba you’re saying that the prison is unruly to sum it up? I remember reading an article similar to this in 2019 but now to read it with full details is mind-blowing. Who’s the blame really gonna fall on for the condition of Her Majesty Prison? This is probably one of the most interesting local news articles I’ve read in a while.

    Like 40
  8. Overhaul says:

    This is another example of how the BVI operates. We have different standards based on who the person is. If you are born here with steep family ties there is one rule for you. If you are born here but with family from overseas or if you are born in the Caribbean there is another rule for you. The place needs a complete overhaul. No standards. No principles. And we see it everyday in everything.

    Like 45
    Dislike 7
  9. Terrible says:

    This is terrible. It always takes something of this magnitude to happen before we take action. The prison should never be without surveillance cameras with an off base system where prison officers cannot tamper with it.

    Secondly why arent the Police and customs dogs taken there randomly for searches.

    We have to stop being so reaction people. Strruuppes

    Like 30
    Dislike 3
  10. .. says:

    He is speaking facts. The pictures are there as evidence.

    Like 38
    Dislike 3
  11. Mutt-ism! says:

    By now we all done see the pictures circulating with all of them up there wearing big chain and smoking weed basically allowed to do almost everything they would have been doing anyway if they was out on the street…Is it really a prison or correctional facility? Damn picture look like a music video; The place slack they allowed to come and go and the officials still unsure of how contraband getting in. Lord help us in this place…I feel sorry for everybody mourning the loss of someone dear to them at the hands of any of those inmates; Then got to turn around and watch the system allow them to live comfortable in a place that supposed to be punishment with your tax money.

    Like 38
    Dislike 2
  12. VI Gyal says:

    up there look like it need extra CCTV cameras in and around

    Like 19
  13. Wow says:

    There might be expatriates running the prisons but there are mostly all totolian inmates and they are ones getting preferential treatment.so if i were you i will get your own to do the job and every thing will be better.
    Think about it!

    Like 10
    Dislike 6
  14. AND GUESS WHAT says:

    HE IS TELLING THE TRUTH, HE IS NOT SPEAKING OUT BECAUSE HE IS NOT LOOKING FOR ANYTHING. HE IS TELLING THE TRUTH. THE BVI PRISON SYSTEM IS A JOKE. THE OFFICERS MALE AND FEMALES OUT OF CONTROL. OFFICERS GIVE THE KILLERS ACCESS TO THE YOUNG MAN THAT LOST HIS LIFE AND THE OTHERS THAT WAS SHANKED UP.THE KILLERS INTENT WAS TO KILL ALL FOUR, I WONDER HOW MUCH MONEY THE OFFICERS GOT FOR THAT HIT.

    Like 22
    Dislike 1
  15. .... says:

    and them was vex when OG Status posted his pick shooting dice and smoking a joint…But the convicted murders association and friends post a pic nobody bats an eye

  16. Kingdom says:

    We have lots of corrupt and underhanded things taking place in the bvi that government officials are well aware of. The affairs of the prison are just a minor segment. The very judicial system is unbalanced and unjust with biased magistrates like *** and others … employed by the court who has sex with underaged school boys and the list goes on. The entire network needs a complete overhaul, replacing who is presently there with qualified individuals who would handle matters justly and not based on your nationality, gender, association nor political affiliation.

    Like 14
    • @Kingdom says:

      You sound so crazy! Go get a mental evaluation. These news sites should not be used to degrade intelligent professional persons who are doing their jobs.

      Like 1
      Dislike 5
  17. Concern says:

    Said it before, BVI doesn’t have a prison, it is has hotel – with bad guests. I saw a picture taken the other day of what looked like a Hip Hop Group – to later found out it was a picture of prisoners, dressed in the latest nikes, cups with what looked like wasn’t apple juice, and smoking weed – and let’s not forget the gold chains. HOW in 2021, you are in prison and not in matching jumpsuits, shackles and posing for pictures…. BVI needs a serious prison reform, or the crimes will not stop.

    Like 20
  18. hmmm says:

    I believe his story 100%. This explains why E** have so much young children out here. His girlfriend always pregnant.

    Like 17
    Dislike 3
    • Facts says:

      @hmmm

      Seems as if you want to end up in that same jail. Why is that your business. Stop spreading lies on the people dem girl children please. Additionally, if you do not know what you speaking about I suggest you remain silent.

      Like 3
      Dislike 7
  19. Jane says:

    To the family sue them. Get raid of 95% of the guards them themselves are criminals

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  20. Windy says:

    What else is new. Thanks anyway. Hoped you talked to COI

  21. Fake News says:

    I will never believe nothing the media put out there again. They eff up my story months back, blow up everything out of proportion!!! The media is a joke!!!

    Like 3
    Dislike 10
  22. Baby Factory says:

    So many children was conceived up at the Holiday Inn on the hill VIA officers and other officers, inmates and officers and the list goes on and on. Here I go driving with my mom and she saw a boy mom said, that is a prison baby.

  23. I am for reform but says:

    One of the problems you have is when our elected officials in photo ops with lifers and stated that “all in prison are not criminals” I’m paraphrasing.

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
  24. @ FACTS says:

    LOOKS LIKE THE TRUTH REALLY SOAKING IN ( YOU GOT TOUCHED ) GO AND TAKE A BATH IN THE REAL FACTS

  25. Hodgie says:

    I will encourage the gentleman who lost his life by the Her Majesty Hotel, family to sue the BVI government. Please get the best international renowned lawyer put on this case. Our government leaders should be help accountable. Far too long we have been hearing about situations up by this hotel 🏨. What steps were made to correct these happening.

    Like 16
    Dislike 5
  26. hmmm says:

    People been talking about seeing ppl who were supposed to be in jail, up in the clubs. Imagine one of those same ppl who was supposed to be inside was actually outside and giving hell. Jumpsuits and hard labor. I do not pay tax for criminals to live lavishly!

    Like 10
  27. Freedom Writer says:

    Lol ..school children say you use the same jaol man dem phones to get out of jail. #duttydog
    . You help a man and he turn around and stab you in the back. #FeelGood

    Like 1
    Dislike 2
  28. BH says:

    I believe every thing that the Ugandan said. I wonder who the permanent secretary thinks she is fooling by playing blind and deaf.

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  29. How the hell the head stays says:

    Why are we acting like fools, The head must of heard of all these incidents going on at the prison before this, someone will make an effort to let the head know, a good officer or a good prisoner, in all this chaos they are good amongst them whos not happy with whats going on….The head is very, very, weak and with little knowledge and courage…Been a nice person doesnt make you the right person…NSC is even weaker..Obviously so..

  30. N says:

    Corruption all over,prison , RVIPF IMMIGRATION, CUSTOMS PORTS ETC.

  31. Disgusted Tax Payer says:

    I know that my TAX PAYING DOLLARS IS USED TO RUN THE PRISON SYSTEM. WHAT I DONOT APPRECIATE IS THE FACT THAT INMATES IS LIVING LIKE THEY ARE IN A HOTEL ON MY DIME. AS A TAX PAYING CITIZEN, I AM GOING TO PEN A LETTER TO THE UK EXPOSING EVERYTHING. WHY IS INMATES ALLOWED TO WEAR BIG GOLD CHAINS AND STREET CLOTHES WHILE IN PRISON. WHY ARE THEY NOT WEARING A PRISON UNIFORM? WHAT TYPE OF S**T IS THAT? THEN YOU HAVE THE REP FROM UP EAST POSING WITH INMATES DRIPPING IN GOLD AROUND THEIR NECKS AND THE LATEST FASHION THOSE CHAINS CAN BE USED AS A WEAPON IN PRISON. THE STREET CLOTHES IS THE REASON MANY INMATES CAN LEAVE THE PRISON AFTER DARK. I WILL ALSO BE CONTACTING THE COI SO THAT THEY CAN OPEN AN INVESTIGATION ON THE HOTEL ON THE HILL. FOR SOME REASON THIS MESS UP AT THE HOTEL IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED.

  32. washer says:

    where else a prisoner can call his country leader and demand a washer and other appliances (stove or something of the sort) and then you see the Health Minister in headline news donating a washer and a fridge at the prison. Now the same Ministry responsible for the prison so why this one was special. The dude from the west who was on the run and covered by the header of stater does run tings mehson. The header of the stater got to comply

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