Guyanese national Lolita Callender-Skelton wept uncontrollably in the Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday after she was sentenced to nine months at Her Majesty’s Prison for conspiracy to personate.
Following the conclusion of the woman’s three-day trial, Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo said she weighed the evidence and found the 28-year old makeup artist guilty of soliciting a man to obtain an HIV test in her (Callender-Skelton’s) name.
The court ordered that her nine-month sentence take effect from the day that she was first placed on remand.
In handing down the sentence, the magistrate overruled what is known as a no-case submission from Callender-Skelton’s attorney.
Effectively, a no-case submission is an argument that there was no evidence or insufficient legal grounds to show that Callender-Skelton is liable for the offence for which she is accused.
The magistrate, however, said: “It is not the court’s business why [Callendar-Skelton committed the offence]. However, the Crown has, beyond a reasonable doubt, proved its case, and the court finds her guilty.”
The Crown called a total of six witnesses — four civilians and two police officers.
The civilian witnesses testified that they encountered Callender-Skelton at Peebles Hospital and at Medicure Laboratory on the days in question. On the other hand, the police witnesses spoke of their investigation which included CCTV footage.
However, after the Crown closed its case, Callender-Skelton chose to remain silent and opted to not testify in her defence or to call witnesses to testify on her behalf.
What the court heard happened
The court heard that Callender-Skelton arrived in the territory on April 20 and was granted permission to remain for 30 days.
Upon her arrival, she met and reportedly had a conversation with a man named ‘Eric’. It is said that he agreed to assist her in getting an HIV test.
On April 24, the duo reportedly attended Peebles Hospital’s laboratory, and Eric identified himself as Lolita.
The court heard that the lab technician on duty asked the young man: “Are you sure that’s your name? Your mother named you Lolita?”
Eric reportedly took a blood type test using the name Lolita Callender; however, it was not the test that they wanted.
When they inquired about performing an HIV test, the lab technician informed them that this test required identification and a doctor’s referral. It was then that the duo inquired of other places on the island that they could perform the said test.
After receiving directions from the lab technician, they went to the Medicure Laboratory to perform the test which did not require any form of identification using the name ‘Lolita Callender’.
When the lab technician requested personal information from Eric such as his date of birth and his telephone number, it was Callender-Skelton who provided the information, the court further heard.
When the test was done, the pair returned to the lab for the results, the court heard.
When the receptionist on duty proceeded to stamp the results of the test, the Guyanese woman interrupted her and asked to see the document before it was stamped.
The court heard that after reviewing it, the accused asked that the gender be changed from male to female. The receptionist then asked if the results were hers, and she responded ‘yes’.
The court further heard that receptionist then took the results to be signed by the technician.
The two then took the results, the court heard, but before leaving the medical facility, Eric reportedly asked laboratory employees: “Why can’t a man be named Lolita?”
The court heard that the Callender-Skelton then posted the results on social media site, Facebook.
The matter was subsequently reported to the police who launched an investigation.
Callendar-Skelton was later met at the Road Town ferry dock where she was arrested.
During the police interview, she said she was being bullied on social media and after hearing of her dilemma, Eric decided to assist her to take the test using her name and his blood.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.