The accused, Rhia Powell on July 9, 2012 following the court hearing.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
A woman pleaded not guilty to the charge of burial in a place other than a public or private cemetery when she appeared in the Magistrate's Court yesterday, July 9.
It is alleged that at Vanterpool Estate in December 2011, Rhia Powell carried out the burial of a human body at a place which was not designated for such activity.
Prosecutor Jude Hanley in laying out the allegations, said that on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at around 6:30 pm, Mr. Smith who resides at East End observed that there was a backhoe digging a hole in close proximity to his home.
Hanley said that on Wednesday, December 7 around 6:00 am, Smith observed that the backhoe dug a hole for a grave and it appeared that a burial was taking place with a small crowd of persons gathered.
Smith then made a report to the East End Police Station and as a result of the report, officers visited the scene. There, they observed a dirt mound with flowers on it and persons gathered at what appeared to be a grave site.
Officers then met Powell and she allegedly told them that she organized a burial for an infant that died at birth.
She was told by the law enforcement officers that it is an offence to carry out a burial without permission from the Ministry of Health. The defendant then told the officers that she was given permission.
Hanley told the court that around 12:00 pm, officers visited the Ministry of Health where certain information was received which allegedly indicated that Powell had sent a letter for permission, but it was sent after the burial had taken place.
Hanley said from the information on the case file, the body had not been removed from the site as of yesterday, July 9.
The Prosecutor reiterated that the defendant did not receive permission from the Health Ministry at the time when the burial took place, since it was after the burial that she sought permission.
After inquires from the Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens, Hanley said the land was privately owned and it belonged to Powell's aunt.
Magistrate Stephens then commented that she knows that persons have land which they use for burial purposes and wondered if this was the case in this matter.
Attorney at Law, Ruthilia Maximea mentioned that Powell has informed her that this has been the practice [burial purposes] with the land and it has happened before. She said Powell is surprised by the charges that have been filed against her.
Powell will return to court on August 15 when the matter will come up for report.