Speculation is rife that the main opposition New National Party (NNP) will soon be on the hunt for a new candidate for the St. David’s Constituency.
The party’s front-runner for the seat, Gabriel Henry has run afoul of the law and was arrested on New Year’s Day by police in St. David’s in connection with an alleged violent domestic issue.
Henry is due to make his first court appearance on January 7, after being placed on bail in the sum of $6,000.00 with two sureties.
Word quickly spread throughout the country that Gabriel was taken into the St. David’s Police Station after a female complained that he had beaten her following a domestic dispute.
THE NEW TODAY newspaper understands that the polie outpost at St. David’s was kept busy on New Year’s day as several persons called to get information on reports that Henry was in their custody in connection with the beating of his female companion with whom he has been living with for the past six years.
According to an authoritative source, the NNP political activist allegedly became enraged over the female’s decision not to attend an Old Year’s Party with him at the residence of former Governor General, Sir Daniel Williams at Westerhall, St. David’s.
The source who spoke on condition of not being identified said, the young woman resorted to attending a function at Grenville, St. Andrew’s.
It is alleged that Henry paid a Taxi to get the female companion to come back to St. David’s and upon arriving at Dudmar he started assaulting her.
Henry is charged in accordance with the Domestic Violence Act that was passed last year in Parliament with causing harm and assault with a dangerous weapon.
The source said the NNP Caretaker candidate used a “big cutlass” to deliver the blows on her.
“You could literally see the blade print on her – on her leg, back and bottom,” he added.
Police in St. David’s have since confiscated the cutlass.
The source described the Old Year’s incident involving Henry as another case of domestic violence that has been plaguing St. David’s in recent times.
According to the source, St. David’s has been experiencing a number of reported domestic violence issues between November and December.
“Unfortunately, we now have Mr. Gabriel being added to the statistics,” he said.
One high-ranking official told this newspaper that after Gabriel was apprehended, the complainant contacted the police once again asking that the matter be dropped since she did not want to pursue any prosecution of the alleged woman batterer.
It is not clear whether any political pressure was brought to bear on the woman by the NNP with general elections widely expected to take place within the first half of the New Year.
The source spoke of the police refusing to accede to her request on the grounds that the new Domestic Violence act mandates them to treat such issues with a great degree of seriousness.
He said the police are also mindful of the fact that they can run into severe criticisms from various human rights and Women’s advocate groups for failing to take action.
Henry who started studies in Cuba in Engineering is also the President of the Grenada Cricket Association (GCA) and one of the island’s representatives on the Windward Islands Cricket Association.
Prior to the incident, moves were said to be afoot by some of the parish cricket committees to unseat him for allegedly poor performance in the job.
Political observers have told this newspaper that the NNP could turn to one of three persons to contest the St. David’s seat in the upcoming general elections – a former government minister, a former police woman and a top civil servant who is currently on a regional posting in Barbados.
In the run up to the 2008 general elections, the then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) was forced to drop the incumbent, Kenrick Fullerton from defending his St. Andrew South-east seat amidst allegations that he was involved in a wife-beating incident.
In the wake of the arrest of the NNP caretaker candidate for St. David’s, the party on Monday issued the following statement on the Gabriel Henry matter:
“The New National Party has been made aware of a domestic incident involving one of our caretakers that has received the attention of the police.
We have received those reports with immense concern, and the disciplinary arm of our party is looking into them.
Also, since there is an ongoing parallel police investigation, we are committed to making no further public statements that will negatively impact on such.
However, as a general point of policy, the NNP categorically denounces any acts of violence, particularly against women, regardless of the circumstances.
Additionally as a compassionate gesture we have also suggested to all parties linked to the incident to seek the necessary counseling that we think will help them on a personal level”.