Plan to move Seaman to UK sparks outrage
A plan to move a violent child sex offender from Bermuda to a hospital in Britain has sparked outrage there.
The backlash came after several British newspapers reported that Merrick Seaman, sentenced to eight years in jail for a serious sexual assault on a five-year-old girl, was in line for a transfer to a secure hospital in Britain.
One commenter on the story, carried in The Sun newspaper, said the British Government should “just say no for once”.
The poster added: “A matter of ‘Public Protection’ to keep this individual incarcerated was the comment of the Bermuda Supreme Court Judge.
“So why is it appropriate to send a dangerous individual to the UK where he could escape from secure custody as has happened in the past?
“Bermuda passing the buck, I think so!”
Another said: “Why should we have him. He’s their responsibility, nothing to do with us.”
Another comment added: “We do not want your trash here, we have enough of our own.”
SealBasher suggested: “Just how have the British taxpayer acquired a liability to such people? If the Bermudans want to send him here, then let them pay for his keep and healthcare. They are richer than us after all.”
Another commenter said: “A Bermuda citizen so Bermuda responsibility. Their justice system is just passing the buck and our Government will fall for it.”
The comments came after a Supreme Court judge ruled that Merrick Seaman, 33, should be sent overseas for care and treatment, based on an expert opinion of his mental health.
The transfer would still need approval from UK courts, but Bermudian authorities have approved it in a bid to protect the island from “further harm” if he is not detained.
Puisne Judge Shade Subair said Seaman should be sent to St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, England, for hospital detention and treatment as soon as possible.
Seaman was locked up in 2011 for a serious sexual assault on the child the previous year.
Chief Justice Richard Ground ruled Seaman should serve his sentence at Westgate prison rather than be subject to a Mental Health Act order.
Seaman was eligible for parole in April 2013, but it was recommended that his release should be delayed until the risk of him committing further offences was reduced.
He was given another psychiatric review the next year after he said: “I intend to go on a killing spree when I get out of jail.”
Seaman was convicted of wounding another inmate and had nine months added to his sentence in 2016.
His earliest release date was June 15 this year, but the Government moved him to the Co-Educational Facility two days earlier so he could be detained under the Mental Health Act pending a transfer to the UK, where he would be treated free of charge under the British National Health Service.
Mrs Justice Subair said in a written judgment: “The wider purpose is to protect the community from further harm, which Seaman would likely cause if not further detained and treated.”
She added that Seaman’s progress would be reviewed by the court every six months, with a full hearing held in a year.
The story also appeared on MailOnline, the online site of The Daily Mail.
One reader wrote: “This should NEVER be allowed.”
Another user added: “Is this country for real? Please can we have politicians who can say, ‘hang on, this nonsense has gone too far’?”
One poster said: “This is a joke! His sentence is not enough in first place, he should never be released! He is a danger! Let alone letting him on a plane to come over here!? Way too risky.”
However, spot_the_ball pointed out: “If you’re going to put your name on other islands around the world, you have to be expected to bear the costs. That’s the price of sovereignty! Can’t have it both ways.”
A risk assessment by British psychologist Emcee Chekwas, submitted to the Department of Corrections in March, recommended that Seaman receive further treatment because there was a “high risk” of further offences, but services likely to help him are unavailable in Bermuda.
Katina Anagnostakis, a forensic psychiatrist at St Andrew’s Healthcare, said Seaman would be accepted if the courts in Bermuda and the UK approved the move.
The problem of how to deal with prisoners with psychiatric illness has been discussed for years because of the island’s lack of high-security accommodation in a hospital.
Parliament passed legislation in June to help those who need psychiatric treatment in a “medium or high-security unit not available in Bermuda”.