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Four month delay in airport staff interviews over alleged assault, court hears

Kennette Robinson, the assistant director at the Department of Child and Family Services (File photograph)

Police could not interview airline staff about an alleged assault of a child by the assistant director of the Government’s child protection agency at the airport until four months after a complaint was made, Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday.

Detective Sergeant Sharnita Tankard, who conducted the investigation into Kennette Robinson, 52, said there had been a delay between the collection of CCTV footage from the airport and interviews with Delta Air Lines staff who may have witnessed the alleged incident because the airline wanted to seek legal advice.

But Charles Richardson, for Ms Robinson, said that was information that should have been put forward earlier in the trial.

He said: “That would’ve been nice to know when the Delta agents were on the stand, that they had wanted to seek legal advice.

“It’s not on the statements anywhere. It would’ve been nice to know – now they’re gone.

“This would have been only fair if I had this information when I had the people on the stand - I could have explored that.”

Ms Robinson, from Devonshire, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault on a 17-year-old girl and the mistreatment of a child under her care.

It is alleged that Ms Robinson grabbed, choked and punched the girl and stamped on her headphones after she refused to board a flight to a residential school in the United States.

The incident was alleged to have happened on May 8 last year.

The court heard yesterday that Ms Tankard, a Sergeant with the Vulnerable Persons Unit, launched an investigation into the alleged assault on May 13 when Alfred Maybury, the director of DCFS, filed a complaint to police on behalf of the girl.

Ms Tankard said that she interviewed Mr Maybury and other DCFS staff and retrieved CCTV footage from the airport in May last year.

But she added that she was unable to speak to Delta representatives until September and October because they wanted to consult a lawyer.

Yukia Hall, an employee with Delta stationed at the airport on May 8, said that she was had just come back from her lunch break and saw the teenager with Ms Robinson and another social worker.

She said that they started to argue as the teenager paced around the entrance to the airport.

Ms Hall added: “It started getting loud – real loud.

“I was dealing with passengers so it was really loud and distracting to the other passengers.

“It made me feel uncomfortable.”

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo adjourned the case until November 4 and extended Ms Robinson’s bail.