US court frees Air Jamaica bomb suspect

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A Jamaican-born man accused over a year ago of attempting to carry material used in the making of bombs aboard an Air Jamaica aircraft, walked free without the matter going to trial at a court in Florida on Monday.

Kevin Christopher Brown, 33, was released from jail after his lead counsel and fellow Jamaican Wayne Golding argued successfully before a judge at a public hearing in the Federal Court, Middle District of Florida in Orlando that he had not committed the offence for which he was accused and that he had spent a long time in prison awaiting trial, which was unfair to him.

“It was based on an unopposed motion that we filed for his release,” Golding told the Observer in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Brown was arrested at Orlando International Airport in Florida on April 1 last year for attempting to carry bomb components aboard Air Jamaica’s flight 80 from Orlando to Montego Bay.

Transportation Security Administration officers held onto him after they said he was acting suspiciously.

Brown, an American citizen, packed flammable and explosive nitro-methane in his luggage before they were detected by airport security.

“He is actually out on bond, but the case is closed. We have reached a stage where it will be resolved and all is left is for some paperwork to be completed,” Golding said. “The matter was scheduled for trial on June 30, but it has since been determined by experts on both sides that Mr Brown never intended to blow up the plane. It was an overreaction on the part of the authorities, but I can’t say that I blame homeland security for responding the way that they did, what with all the terrorist activities going on these days. “After the prosecution went through the items, they came to the same conclusion as us, that he was not guilty of what he was accused of,” Golding said. Brown spent 14 months in jail awaiting trial of possession of explosive devices.

He was denied bail due to what Magistrate Karla Spaulding said then was his possession of the explosive items, evidence that he was admitted to a Veterans Affairs hospital for psychiatric treatment and his lack of residential and financial connections to Florida. Golding, who appeared in the matter with American lawyer Tim McClain, said that the items that Brown possessed were not explosives that could have put the lives of the passengers at risk.

“The government’s attorneys said that they could not prove the case. What it might come down to is he could face a misdemeanour charge, like unauthorised entry onto airport property with an item that could be a cigarette lighter or matches. The intent was not there,” Golding said.

Brown is now at an undisclosed location in the USA and is trying to get his life back on track, his lawyer said.
“We don’t want to disclose his location, but he is free, moving about and grateful for all the support that he got. We are extremely grateful that this is over. It’s been a 14-month nightmare for all those involved. He has been through a lot. What his eyes have seen, our brains can never comprehend. His mother was murdered in Jamaica, he served the military, but he was not yet a US citizen, so he will not get certain benefits.

“He has a strong family unit in Jamaica that has stood by him, in particular, his adopted mom, Ms Rodney in Kingston. She was the impetus in what we consider a successful conclusion to this matter,” Golding said.

Golding, in the meantime, is warning Jamaicans to be careful when they travel overseas, as they were not always clear on procedures. “I travel to Jamaica all the time and see people who could end up the same way like Mr Brown. They carry simple items, like some agricultural stuff, that could get them in trouble without them knowing,” Golding said.

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