In this video Melissa Ferguson finds the island in the Belize River where she was left without food or power.

THE ORDEAL

When Melissa Ferguson received a final message from Danny telling her to find a lawyer, she remembered meeting an impressive young woman named Souad Assad Lindo on the night they had hosted that UDP victory party for Patrick Faber, at their house, on June 7.

That night Souad Lindo gave Melissa the address of a recently opened office for Dean Lindo Law in Belmopan and introduced her assistant, Jen, suggesting Melissa could book an appointment with her. They could perhaps discuss Melissa’s immigration procedures which were moving too slowly? Melissa added Souad Lindo’s phone numbers onto to her cel and soon had a meeting with her at which time Ms. Lindo requested detailed documentation of their various land holdings.

On the night of July 15, 2016, Melissa therefore called Ms. Lindo’s private number and Ms. Lindo told Melissa she would make the hour-long drive from Belize City right away to find and possibly assist Danny.

Having never been to Mr. Santo’s Bar, Melissa could only tell her Danny was with friends at a place somewhere near the mechanics shop, on a back road.

Jesus Castillo had just called her a few minutes before from the bar, asking her, “Mel, what’s going on?” so it occurred to Melissa to call Castillo back and ask him if he could guide Ms. Lindo to the location. With Castillo’s directions, Ms. Lindo was able to find her way to the rough-and-tumble bar in the dark, without street signs.

It is conceivable—given Castillo’s seemingly omnipresent role in the story of Danny Mason’s downfall—that by the time Ms. Lindo had made that drive from Belize City to Belmopan that Assistant Commissioner Russell Blackett might have been alerted to Ms. Lindo’s pending arrival by the person who was providing directions. It remains unclear as to whether Ms. Lindo was granted access to the area under investigation or not–but seemingly she was prevented from having any meaningful conversation with Danny Mason.

After what seemed like hours, Melissa’s phone rang.

“Get your stuff,” Souad Lindo advised. “I’m coming to get you right now. It’s really bad.”

Souad Lindo

With the long delay between their two conversations on the phone, it is likely that Ms. Lindo would have made some other phone calls that night, asking more senior personnel within her law firm or her family for advice, specifically Herbert Panton, a partner at the firm. This would certainly explain why Herbert Panton arrived at Mr. Santo’s Bar that night and offered his services to Danny as a lawyer. In retrospect, this was a hugely significant event.

Souad Lindo was never required to appear in court and her phone records have not been examined. Only much, much later would Melissa learn that she had been bamboozled into placing her full trust in someone who was not yet a lawyer. Ms. Lindo had presented herself as such, from early June onward, but at that stage of her career she was really akin to a legal clerk or an office manager.

Melissa now realizes she trusted Souad Lindo under false pretences. Relatively new to Belize, and as someone who did not follow politics closely (like her husband), Melissa was also not aware that the law firm where Ms. Lindo worked had been founded by Dean Russel Lindo, one of the country’s most venerable lawyers, and it was the same law firm that had launched the career of the Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow.

Dean Lindo, in fact, was Dean Barrow’s maternal uncle.

Dean Lindo (1932-2018)

Prime Minister Dean Barrow had joined his uncle’s law firm in 1973 and was made a partner in 1977. Dean Lindo had co-founded the ruling United Democratic Party in 1973, had served as its first leader and later accepted the important role as Belizean ambassador to the United States, a crucial job in a country which has pegged its dollar to be worth 49 cents American, no matter how the American currency might fluctuate. Dean Barrow had eventually left Lindo’s firm to start Barrow and Williams whose clients included the richest man historically associated with Belize, Lord Ashcroft, whose enterprises included Belize Bank and Belize Telemedia.

When Ms. Lindo eventually arrived at Intelco Hill, Melissa saw she a young man with her. He was not formally introduced. He was just Andrew.

Assuming that her lawyer must have good reasons for taking her from her home so abruptly, Melissa gathered a few belongings and simply obeyed the urgency in the voice of someone she assumed was acting as her lawyer. In this way, Melissa Ferguson drove away from her home that night with two people very closely connected to the law firm that could boast the country’s Prime Minister as a senior partner, emeritus. The likelihood that the Prime Minister of Belize would have had a good idea of Melissa’s whereabouts for the next eighteen days is therefore a matter for serious consideration.

At the time, Melissa had no way of knowing that Souad Lindo would become one of the sixty-six persons who would formally submit their applications in 2018 to represent the United Democratic Party in the next General Elections, seeking the nomination for the constituency of Fort George.

On the night of July 15, 2015, around midnight, Melissa naturally asked her lawyer why she was being urged to flee. She knew she had done nothing wrong.

Ms. Lindo told her that she would be arrested and charged with murder if the police caught up with her. Melissa still had no idea how or why this could be feasible.

Driving away from Belmopan, Ms. Lindo proceeded to tell Melissa the horrific story about the head in the bucket.

Melissa was in shock and worried sick about her husband. As Melissa heard Ms. Lindo provide details, she asked why Souad Linda had not remained at the scene to help Danny as his lawyer, Ms. Lindo blamed Blackett for impeding access to her client. There was no mention to Melissa that another attorney, Panton, had been called to represent him on behalf of Lindo Law.

Only in retrospect, many months later, would Melissa realize that Blackett could have easily dismissed Souad Lindo from Mr. Santo’s Bar on the grounds that she did not carry any credentials to prove she was a fully qualified attorney.

Sitting in the back seat, Melissa received a call from one of the workers from the house. The caller was frightened, letting her know that another on their workers, Francisco “Charlie” Yatz, had just been beaten up by the police and they didn’t know why.

It would never occur to any of the defence lawyers to suggest that simultaneously beating up “Charlie” Yatz on the same day that Danny was arrested was evidence to corroborate the supposition that police were proceeding with a pre-conceived agenda.

Melissa was not a lawyer but even she could see that this simple fact alone served as a proof that police were fulfilling some sort of agenda, for someone.

Russell Blackett

Then Melissa received a call came from the Acting Commissioner of Police, Russell Blackett. After Blackett’s interference in the driveway dispute involving the contractor Mike Padilla, she had little reason to trust Blackett, even though he had made supposedly friendly visits to the house.

Presuming the call from Blackett must pertain to the legal situation at hand, Melissa handed her phone into the front seat, expecting her lawyer to speak on her behalf, but instead Ms. Lindo refused to talk to Blackett. It made Melissa uneasy to realize her lawyer had just ignored a call from the Acting Commissioner of Police. Blackett continued to call Melissa’s number. Ms. Lindo continued to instruct her not to answer.

They just kept driving further into the darkness.

 

BLACK(ETT)MAIL

According to Danny, after he was taken to the Belmopan police station, Blackett took him aside for a private meeting and demanded $500,000 BZ in order to prevent him from going to jail and being charged. He said he could let Danny go free if he was willing to sign some sort of statement.

When Danny did not comply, saying he was obviously innocent, Blackett threatened to also have Melissa charged as an accessory. Those calls to Melissa’s phone that night from Blackett might have been attempts to talk to her while he was simultaneously trying to blackmail Danny.

The Acting Commissioner of Police in Belize would later deny his presence at Mr. Sancho’s Bar, under oath, in court, and be somewhat chastised by the magistrate for providing misleading testimony, but there would be no repercussions.

Melissa would later wonder, as a lay person: if the Acting Commissioner of Police of a country lies in the country’s foremost legal forum, would that not somehow constitute grounds for a mis-trial? But there would be so many lies in this case, the overall divergence from the facts had burgeoned into a maze of deceit. No media representative in Belize could dare to go into it—and hope to come out alive.

For a safe haven, Ms. Lindo and Andrew first drove her to a police barracks near Belize City and told her this is where she would be staying. Having just learned that one of her employees had just been beaten by police, the notion of taking refuge in a police barracks made absolutely no sense. Melissa refused to get out of the car and stay there. Ms. Lindo and Andrew discussed various options before taking her to someone’s house where she was told she would not be permitted to leave the bedroom under any circumstances.

Did this house belong to Andrew’s parents? Could it belong to Andrew? Under the guise of being her protector and caretaker, Andrew Gill would remain as a highly significant figure in Melissa’s life for an eighteen-day period. At first, he brought her clothes; Melissa was getting her own food. Later, after Ms. Lindo forbade direct communications between Melissa and her staff, she was told she must not leave her hotel room for any reason.

Andrew brought her food and became the main liaison for Melissa’s communications with Panton, Danny’s attorney. Ms. Lindo’s secretary, Jen, became the main liaison for Melissa’s communications with Ms. Lindo, who was maintaining the pretence that she was serving as Melissa’s attorney.

“Andrew” turned out to be the nephew of Herbert Panton, as well as his driver. While Herbert Panton never spoke to Melissa directly, he was obviously apprised of her whereabouts. In retrospect, his actions—such as placing unscrupulous individuals in charge of their properties, resulting in rampant thievery, or refusing to listen to any of the accused when they tried to get him to ask specific questions during cross examinations—would add substance for an argument to be made at the Court of Appeal level that the accused were clearly victimized by Incompetent Counsel.

Upon getting back in the car, Ms. Lindo and Andrew could not decide where to take her. Melissa finally told them to take her to a hotel. As Friday night was turning into Saturday morning, she got a room at the hotel closest to the airport, the Global Village Hotel, where she was able to glean news from the television and radio. She also learned the identity of the murder victim.

Here Melissa Ferguson stayed for a week at the insistence of Souad Lindo, her would-be attorney, who told her she must remain out of sight.

For the next few days, as she watched the news from her hotel room, Melissa obviously could not do much to help Danny directly, so she concentrated on the logistical problems of somehow caring for hundreds of animals at two places. With police blocking access to both properties, she urged Ms. Lindo to work with Russell Blackett to gain approval for staff to save the animals. At this time, Ms. Lindo was remaining in close contact with both Melissa and her parents in Canada, and Melissa was relying her to serve as her lawyer on all legal fronts.

At first, Melissa was in communication with both current and previous workers who were willing to assist, but police refused to grant access to both properties. The police had broken the gate at the ranch, and left it open. Around thirty horses not locked in stalls were dispersed in the area. Workers, former workers and neighbours volunteered to round up as many as they could from the village of La Democracia, Mahogany Heights and all over the George Price Highway. They tied a rope to the gate to help secure it but they were not permitted onto the site.

The stallions Black Jack, Good Medicine and Black Jack’s colt had remained locked in their stables without food and water. The average, 1,000-pound horse will drink around ten gallons of water per day. Extreme dehydration occurs after three days without water. Sequestered in her hotel room by her lawyer, on orders from Ms. Lindo to lay low, Melissa made calls to every organization she could think of to assist. Eventually she was able to hire Central Farm but they were only permitted to deliver feed to the outside entry of the ranch.

Ms. Lindo assured her she was making overtures to Russell Blackett but it took five days before authorized personnel were permitted to visit the ranch and try to rescue the animals. As well, Ms. Lindo gained permission to have access to Intelco Hill for the sole purpose of tending to the dogs. Coincidentally, someone gained illegal access to the house and extracted countless private documents (never to be returned) and gained access to Melissa’s computer.

At this time Melissa was presented with a letter from Ms. Lindo’s secretary, Jen, stating that while the ranch was released from custody, only Souad would have the authority for access to the house. The letter was not on any official letterhead. Melissa thought this document was highly irregular. Why should the ranch be opened up, but the house be controlled by her attorney?  Then she received alarming text messages from a neighbour.

“Miss Mel, there is a truck at the back here, loading up your animals.”

Melissa’s immediate response was to call her attorneys. But then her neighbour sent another message.

“They are here, too.”

Two workers at the house, Charlie and Maggie, looked after all the dogs, including a large litter of Rottweiler pups. Two workers at the ranch buried Black Jack, Good Medicine and the colt at the rear of the property, where deceased livestock of all kinds were always buried, or burned. It was this area strewn with the bones of animals where police tried, without conclusive scientific success, to prove that Llewellyn Lucas’ murderers had disposed of the victim’s body.

In 2019, Melissa Ferguson reunited with Merlene who had advised her three years earlier to get in touch with Dickie Bradley to escape from Souad Lindo.

Needing some clothes, Melissa visited the used closing outlet across the street—really more like a barn than a store. This discount clothing outlet sold used clothing by the pound. Melissa had been there before, buying rags for the ranch. The sales manager, Merlene, immediately recognized Melissa and comforted her. She could tell Melissa was distressed and she had been watching the news reportage.

“You need to get a hold of Dickie Bradley,” Merlene said.

Merlene only knew his reputation, not his phone number.

It lifted Melissa’s spirits when she was able to meet two of her assistants, Dian Young and Stephanie Gule (aka “Budd”), in the parking lot of the clothing mart. They had both been kept busy managing her affairs in direct liaison with Ms. Lindo. They, too, presumed Ms. Lindo was a lawyer. They gave her restorative hugs.

Dian had worked for the couple as a cook, housekeeper and payroll assistant. Stephanie, the wife of a previous employee, had a vehicle. With the assistance of this pair, Melissa was able to provide payroll funds for staff, as well as a detailed summary of the contractors who were hired to look after animals, and appropriate funds for their services.

About one day after Melissa received the strange letter empowering Ms. Lindo to be granted sole access to the house property, Melissa received a direct call from her lawyer advising her that she must have no further communications with any of her staff, such as Ms. Young or Ms. Gule—both of whom could now corroborate the unusual relationship between Melissa and Ms. Lindo.

When Melissa called Stephanie immediately, Stephanie confirmed that she had been instructed by Ms. Lindo to have no further communications with her lawyer.

After about five nights in the Global Village Hotel, Melissa was instructed to never leave her room and curtail all attempts at continue to manage her business affairs.

Still, it never crossed Melissa’s mind to wonder who, if anyone, Souad Lindo might be informing about her whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Andrew was making traceable withdrawals on her bank card at the Bank of Belize branch right across the road.

Melissa felt herself sliding down into a wonderland of madness and self-doubt. This was a different kind of prison. She had done nothing wrong, yet her lawyer was insisting she continue to behave as if she had.

 

STUCK ON AN ISLAND

While communications with and from Ms. Lindo started to noticeably dwindle, Andrew told her she would soon be moving. Ms. Lindo made only one more call to Melissa.

“Someone is going to get you tonight. They will be wearing a cap. They will give you a package including a box of hair colour. Meet them in the lobby tonight at 8.”

For a formerly fresh-faced girl from an unheard-of town in the prairies of Canada, life had become a weirdly dark equivalent to dreaming. All this subterfuge would have made psychic sense to her if their secrecy had afforded some freedom, but there was precious little emotion beyond dread and confusion.

The man with the cap arrived and put Melissa in a cab. They did not drive very far at all. They turned onto a dirt track, overgrown with long grass.

Hardly decipherable and less than half-a-mile from the airport, here is the turnoff to an overgrown dirt road, to the left of the white house, that leads to an overgrown path en route to a rustic cabin on a tiny island in the Belize River–where Melissa Ferguson was deposited against her will.

This route through the trees was so bumpy, the taxi driver did not want to proceed because he feared for his vehicle. Melissa recalls being let out of the car in complete darkness, in the bushes. She was fortunate she had her small flashlight with her.

Andrew escorted her to place in the bushes where she was passed into the care of a Spanish-speaking man. She had to remind herself she wasn’t dreaming. In this surrealistic travelogue, she got into an old boat. There was a child in it, giving her some assure it might be safe. Andrew left. Melissa was taken to a very rustic wooden farm on a little island. There were more children and she worried that she might be frightening to them. It was obvious these people were not expecting an overnight guest in their cramped, wooden quarters. And yet they opened their home to her.

Melissa sat outside the little shack, with the man who had brought her in the boat, waiting for Souad Lindo to arrive. On her phone, she called and called her lawyer, but Ms. Lindo never picked up. Was it possible that her lawyer was intending for Melissa to remain on this tiny island in the Belize River?

Eventually, the man invited her inside for shelter. All of the children moved to the only other room where the family slept in one bed while a small cot was offered to her.

The next morning, she could hear planes overhead, not far away. She was somewhere near the main airport.

She attempted to dye her hair in the river, as she had been told to do. There was no food and Melissa did not speak any Spanish. She managed to let the family know she was hungry by drawing pictures on a little piece of paper. They supplied a coconut. She was still starving. She drew a crude drawing of a chicken, but to no avail. These people had nothing. She gave some money she had to the Spanish father. He left in the little boat with his son to get supplies.

There was no electricity in the shack. There was nothing on the little island. She kept calling Ms. Lindo and Andrew all weekend until her  phone had run out of power and she could no longer make any attempts to reach anyone.

After three days in this stifling shack, in the middle of the night, the door burst open and two men said, as a command, “You are coming with us.”

In 2019, Melissa Ferguson found the place where she was held captive, without food, on the Belize River.

They put her in a boat. They made the short trip to the riverbank. Andrew was there. They put her in a van and covered her up. They asked if she had any money for money. Melissa had $25 BZ left. She gave it to the driver.

They took her to another safe house, somewhere in Belize City, where the family spoke English and were kind to her. She was given a bedroom with a bunk bed. They hung blankets and told her not to come out before checking if the coast was clear. She was now realizing with dread that she had become some sorted of “Wanted” person. She realized with horror, while watching the news, that this was how she was being depicted.

It only then became clear to her that her lawyer Souad Lindo had led her into a trap.

At this new place, they gave her a nickname, “Turtle,” with affection, because she was not to come out from the room without checking first. Again, she was not the one hiding; she was the one being hidden.

Here she was able to re-charge her phone and finally get hold of her parents. This should have felt like the best thing possible. Instead her parents had to pass along some very troubling news, and it wasn’t about Danny.

“Your attorney is calling and demanding $50,000 U.S. to take you to Guatemala.”

 

ESCAPE FROM SOUAD

The request from Ms. Lindo for $50,000 U.S. from Melissa’s parents in order to take Melissa to Guatemala for a cross-border escape is not merely shocking on moral grounds, given that it was a proposal coming from a would-be attorney.

Everyone in Belize knows that the long-disputed northern border between Guatemala and Belize is so exceedingly porous that $50,000 for what would be the equivalent of a long-distance taxi would amount to an outrageous ripoff.

Coincidentally, the Prime Minister of Belize went on television and assured the populace that Melissa Ferguson would be arrested, further coercing the public into believing she must be a criminal who was on the run.

So, was this why Ms. Lindo was keeping Melissa in hiding? How could Melissa possibly make any sense of this? Why had Ms. Lindo been so eager to have Melissa remove herself from her own property? After a more than a week of Melissa taking her orders from Ms. Lindo, the internet was rife with sensational reporting and invective.

The people of Dangriga, in particular, wanted to avenge the killing of Llewellyn and the police and politicians did their best to focus their ire towards Danny Mason and Melissa Ferguson.

Meanwhile, Andrew brought her a power-of-attorney form that Danny had seemingly signed. This form afforded control of all their joint property holdings to attorneys. Melissa was told Danny had already signed the form but she was extremely suspicious. That would not be like him to do such a thing. This document would cede full power of attorney to Souad Lindo of the Lindo Law firm. There was not “out” clause. It was completely irrevocable and would empower Suoad Lindo to sell everything.

After Patrick Faber’s victory, Melissa had visited Suoad Lindo at the Belmopan office and had been perplexed by her lawyer’s eagerness to acquire copies of all their land holdings. Now, bizarrely, this power of attorney document from Souad Lindo replicated a spelling error that had been made by Guyanese officials when Danny’s passport had been issued. His surname in the passport erroneously started his surname with a Q instead of an O.

Unsigned by Melissa Ferguson

Ouellet misspelled as Quellet

Page 1 of a POA draft ceding control of properties to Souad Lindo and Lindo Law

Page 2 of a POA draft ceding control of properties to Souad Lindo and Lindo Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to include that error in a power of attorney document, someone would have had to have gained access to Danny’s passport that was inside the house at Intelco. Souad Linda had gained legal permission to enter the property exclusively to feed the dogs. This draft of a power of attorney document that would have granted Suoad Lindo the authority to sell their properties supports a claim that she had gained illegal access to their private papers.

Andrew pressured her to sign it. Melissa resisted. She noticed the date of the contract was July 18, only three days after Danny’s arrest when he, undoubtedly, had been in a very disturbed state of mind. The propriety of asking a newly-arrested man, in shock, newly imprisoned in Hattieville, to cede control of his properties must therefore be questioned. There is no Lindo Law letterhead for this proposed POA agreement.

It was George Gill, the head of the family that called her “Turtle,” who gave her the contact information for lawyer “Dickie” Bradley. Although George was a cousin of Andrew, he had expressed some reservations to her regarding what Ms. Lindo’s motives might be. George also helped facilitate Melissa’s first meeting with Bradley without Andrew knowing.

“Dickie” Bradley to the rescue.

After his second clandestine meeting with Melissa, Bradley agreed to represent her. He contacted police and promised to supply a statement from his new client, but he did not reveal her whereabouts.

Then came the hurricane. Melissa was taken to a new apartment building where she might be safer. She lay on the floor for two days while the storm raged. There was no power. It was very hot. Her parents managed to send funds to George so they could have supplies to last throughout the hurricane.

After the storm, they returned to George’s house. Andrew began calling.  He demanded she provide the signed Power of Attorney document. He insisted he would be coming to get it.

Melissa called Dickie Bradley and told him she wished to be taken to a different hotel, unbeknownst to everyone, even George. Having dealt with a real attorney by this time, it was finally clear to her that Souad Lindo was not operating in good faith.

After the hurricane, hotel rooms were in short supply. Dickie Bradley arrived. He took her to a restaurant and told her he had arranged for her to go and tell her side of the story to the police. He had advised the police that, as his new client, she would soon appear.

Meanwhile, they found the only room available in a Chinese-run place that frightened Melissa because the door to her room couldn’t be opened from the inside. Bradley was sympathetic but unfortunately all the other rooms were booked for workers who had been brought into Belize City to help clean up after the hurricane.

Her phone began ringing constantly, mostly calls from Andrew and George, because they didn’t know where she was. When she took Andrew’s calls, he told her he was going to get fired for losing track of her. He made every effort to convince her to return.

Even though Panton had supposedly placed people in charge at both their properties, thieves had meanwhile descended on their two properties and cleaned out everything—every pot ‘n’ pan, most of their furniture, lots of heavy-duty outdoor equipment. Gone. She also now learned that the stallions had died at the ranch and all the other horses that were kept in stables were gone.

[Even though she would provide a list of hundreds of items that were stolen from the house, Belizean police would refuse to undertake any robbery investigations. All locks were broken, a window was broken, but Belizean police maintained there was no sign of forced entry. She was not permitted to report that $65,000 BZ was missing from the safe. As for missing corporate records and Danny’s flight logs, she would be advised that such materials were being retained as part of the murder investigation and therefore could not be reported as lost.]

Ms. Lindo faded from the story, having gained access to Melissa’s personal items at the house as well as her hard drive containing the records of all her corporate activities.

Ultimately, Ms. Lindo would claim she barely knew Melissa Ferguson.

 

 

 

After Melissa’s eighteen days seemingly spent on the run, but actually in hiding at the advice of a bogus lawyer, it was Dickie Bradley who drove her from Belize City to the Belmopan police station.

As her attorney, Dickie Bradley would later advise Melissa not to tell the court about any of these details. He said they were too hard to believe. It is hard for even a layman not to imagine that Bradley could have formulated a plea bargain; if his client said nothing about the actions of Souad Lindo, the prosecution would not charge Melissa as an accomplice in murder.

Regardless, she went from one mysterious adviser who seemed to an agenda of her own to seemingly one of the most sophisticated and capable attorneys in the country.

 

OH, CANADA

Knowing she had never sought to resist arrest in the first place, Melissa followed the advice of Dickie Bradley and went to the police station for questioning, whereupon she was charged with conspiracy for kidnapping. This was not what her lawyer had advised her to expect.

Melissa was sent to Belize Central Prison in Hattieville to the female section of the country’s only correctional facility. There she shared a cell with a woman from Mexico who had no legal representation. She had been waiting for years just to get a trial date for a murder charge. This woman, Anabell Kumul, took care of her, tried to comfort her, and made sure she had food to eat. She showed her the ropes. Ana made sure she had clothes for court and shared everything she had.

With its high incarceration rate of 356 per 100,000 overall, Belize has an unusually high rate for female incarceration that has risen from 8.4 per 100,000 in 2000 to 12.6 in 2017. Six years have now passed for Ana as her life remains in limbo within the Belizean legal system. She remains remanded, not convicted, awaiting a trial date—a victim of a clearly inefficient and inhumane justice system that is corrupt and broken—while successive governments of Belize turn a blind eye.

After five days in Hattieville, Melissa, because she could afford a distinguished lawyer who fought for her right to bail, was allowed to leave the prison facility on bail. The charge of conspiracy to kidnap was not dropped and she had to follow the weekly sign-in procedures at the police station in return for freedom of movement while out on bail.

She could not leave the country. When her husband was taken for a court appearance, she now was required to appear with him there were six co-accused, rather than five.

After approximately six months in apprehensive limbo, at a preliminary inquiry court appearance, she was advised that all charges against her had been dropped.

First and foremost, the main reason that Melissa Ferguson was ultimately not charged with any offense is because she was completely innocent. It is certainly not a crime to be duped and effectively held captive by a person who has misrepresented herself. The consequences of this deceitful misrepresentation clearly proved to be disadvantageous and alarming to Melissa Ferguson, and as well as disastrous with respect to the couple’s properties, animals and all the of their records.

Possibly, it did not hurt for Melissa to have Canadian citizenship. Links between Canada and Belize are significant. Belize is home to 3,500 Canadians and Belize benefits from Canada’s $600 million Caribbean Regional Development Program. In retrospect, it might have been wise for Belizean lawyers to stress that Danny had been arrested with a Canadian passport that was still valid until 2018; instead, he was widely assumed to be Guyanese due to the colour of his skin and the fact that he had entered Belize with his Guyanese passport.

Links between the two Commonwealth countries, Belize and Canada, go deeper than is common knowledge. When nation founder George Price somehow brought British Honduras to its independence as Belize without bloodshed, he befriended both Fidel Castro and Pierre Elliot Trudeau. It’s a little-known fact that all three men were greatly influenced by the same Jesuit teacher.

This rare image shows Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau on Glover’s Reef where he was visited for one afternoon by his friend George Price who helped keep Trudeau’s getaway to Belize a very private matter.

When Trudeau wanted to make a secret, romantic getaway—not recorded in any Trudeau biographies, but proof was found in the Belize Archives in Belmopan—it was George Price who personally arranged for Trudeau Sr. to visit remote Glover’s Reef, undetected and unobserved. In return for this favour, Trudeau directed Canada pay for a whole new sewage system in Belize City, notorious for its open sewage canals.

Ever since, Canada’s economic support for Belize has been significant.

But, more to the point, Melissa was someone who literally had to escape from Souad Lindo (and, by association, Lindo Law) in order to turn herself in. She had been manipulated and it is possible to criticize for being naive, but there was not a single piece of evidence against her.

 

CROOKED TREE

None of the five accused were granted bail after murder charges were laid in July of 2016, so Danny Mason has languished in prison ever since, mostly in solitary confinement.

Perceived as someone from Guyana, Mason has remained in a space not much bigger than a closet. He has been allowed one-hour-per-day access to a pay phone, five days a week, but all phone numbers have to be dialed by someone else. If any member of the prison staff speaks to him, they risk being thrown in ‘the hole.’

Hugh Saul from Guyana

Initially, Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Belize, Hugh Saul, went to visit Danny in prison only to undergo mistreatment from prison staff. It is common knowledge that one of the country’s foremost lawyers will no longer visit any clients in the prison due to the degrading treatment that visitors can be forced to endure. Hugh Saul made formal complaints and ultimately received an apology from the Kolbe Foundation, but the facility maintains its reputation for hostile responses to visitors.

After more than three years, Melissa has remained loyal to her husband, firmly convinced she did not choose to live with a man who would ever cut off another man’s head, or sit idly by while others undertook the task. While allowed short visits on a specific number of days, the couple has been limited to the standard four “family visits” per year. Meanwhile, Belizean media has yet to expend much effort conducting research into who Melissa Ferguson might be.

People in Belize never knew she was raised in a very conventional Canadian family and had attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon where she gained her Bachelor of Science. She moved to Ontario in 1991, with stints in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls before settling in Toronto where she worked for the technology company, Sprint. She developed a career path in the pharmaceutical and medical industry by working for Bayer, Pfizer and Bristol-Myer’s Squibb.

She met Teddy Ouellet in Toronto in 2006. Already a pilot, he took some additional aviation training and logged many flights from local airports at such places as Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and Brampton. She used to enjoy watching him flying from their 51st floor apartment located across from Toronto Island.

They both loved travelling and Melissa had always wanted to live somewhere tropical. With his two boys now grown, they decided the time was right. Initially, Melissa stayed in Ontario to finish a pharmaceutical contract while Danny went ahead to Barbados where there was an international cricket competition he hoped to see. He became involved with the Barbados Aviation and Flight Training School. They were engaged and rented a house. When they learned it was difficult to get permanent residency status in Barbados, she suggested Guyana, his birthplace.

In 2011, while living in Guyana, they began selling medical equipment throughout the Caribbean. He incorporated a company called 7Oceanz and she started a company called Coremed Inc. Her company was aligned with diagnostic equipment; his was more concerned with biomedical services.

The couple soon realized that even with brand new equipment, there remained challenges for having diagnostic images to be interpreted properly and for accurate diagnosis to be rendered. Accordingly, their U.S.-based iCloud, Inc. offered :cloud-based service solutions” for medical imagining technology. Or, in laymen’s terms, they could facilitate large image files to be sent to radiology interpretation centres in the U.S.

Arthur Saldivar

When the couple later came to Belize, their first lawyer was Arthur Saldivar, the cousin of John Saldivar. They incorporated a locally registered company, BMT (Belize Medical Technology) associated with parent company ICloud Inc., hoping to bring to Belize—ironically, in retrospect—the country’s first DNA machine for Human Identification.

Upon completion of the proposal to implement the DNA equipment, Danny Mason presented the concept to his business partner at the time, John Saldivar, Minister of National Security. There was to be no capital expense with only a monthly service fee, ideally providing an affordable solution to the problem of always having to send DNA samples abroad for testing.

Given the country’s extraordinarily high rate of homicide, one would have assumed Belize might have acquired such technology long before 2016.

The couple’s new company, BMT, was “devoted to serving remote, rural and developing countries, globally.” They had references from satisfied clients in hospitals in Grenada, St. Kitts, Trinidad and Guyana. But all of this history was never shared with readers in Belize.

Instead the attention of the country was diverted to a scam reporting website that had depicted Danny Mason as a shyster. It is very easy to smear anyone on the internet. Anyone—including police—can easily post a few paragraphs of unsubstantiated allegations of fraudulent behaviour, without providing any context or details. The internet is rife with attempts at character assassinations. Politicians, media and the public were all quick to exclusively report that Danny Mason must be a nefarious character because he had changed his name and because there were several sentences on the internet alleging that he could not be trusted. Prime Minister Dean Barrow, himself a lawyer, was quick to toss more wood onto this fire.

Two brilliant traps were laid to reveal Danny had engaged in criminal behaviour prior to the charge of murder.

Beautiful, downtown Crooked Tree

First, in June of 2015, against his wife’s wishes, Mason acquired a Belizean birth certificate that claimed he was born in the village of Crooked Tree. This was part of the arrangements made with government officials when he purchased Belizean citizenship. Unsuspecting applicants believe Belizean officials are doing a favour; but those same government officials coincidentally know the falsification of documents can also be divulged at any time. Given the complicity of police, wrongdoing of any government official will not be simultaneously exposed.

Possibly, whoever chose the village of Crooked Tree as a birthplace for Danny had a sense of humour. When that bogus birth certificate was made viewable on the internet, along with the picture of a head in a bucket, the criminality of Danny Mason was verified as far as most Belizeans were concerned.

Secondly, Danny Mason was accorded preferential treatment when he applied for firearms licences. There was a paper trail that revealed he somehow was “fast tracked.” Again, even though such preferential treatment necessarily entailed the complicity of government personnel, media was not sufficiently motivated to discover the facilitators of Mason’s queue-jumping.

It was enough to expose him as a privileged manipulator with the paperwork that was supplied.

 

THE GSU & JOHN MCAFEE

Around the time when Danny was granted a false birth certificate, the prime authority for the granting of a gun licenses since 2013 had been the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, but as the Assistant Commissioner of Police at the time, it was Russell Blackett who signed gun licenses for Danny Mason.

The Registrar of the Supreme Court and Registrar General of Belize was Velda Flowers, the Chief Registrar of the Vital Statistics Unit. A close associate of Jesus Castillo was Mark Flowers, who was working undercover as a GSU commander (Gang Suppression Unit). He had replaced Lyndon Flowers as head of GSU in August of 2014.

The creation of the GSU had been announced by Prime Minister Dean Barrow as a special unit of the Belize Police Department in 2010. The GSU, under John Saldivar, has been accused of being a rogue unit, above the law, and the rival PUP party has vowed to disband it if elected.

It was the GSU that conducted a controversial raid on the home of John McAfee, the American computer security company founder, killing his dog, confiscating his passport and initially arresting him on weapons charges. McAfee claimed the raid was in retaliation for his refusal to donate money to a UDP politician. McAfee, with his self-styled reputation as a volatile maverick, was later charged with murder in Belize.

Because McAfee was also perceived as a well-to-do foreigner trying to relocate to Belize, his bilateral narrative cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

McAfee has recalled:

“On Monday at six o’clock, I was awakened by the sound of a bullhorn, a megaphone. I went outside and saw about thirty GSU in full uniform, full dressed, automatic weapons, storming through the property and driveway. I went back inside, got some clothes on, I came out. I was told to put my hands up against the wall as was eleven other people on the compound. We had about eleven people present at the time—five of them were women. I was told that they had a warrant to search property. They began, with sledge hammers, to break the doors of the buildings—none of them were locked, but they just went and broke them in any case. I was merely watching this.

“They confiscated my passport, all of the weapons we used for security on the compound, handcuffed me and everyone else, and for fourteen hours outside in the sun, I sat handcuffed without food or water. We got water around noon. At three o’clock we asked for food. We were told by the GSU, do we look like cooks to you. They murdered my dog in cold blood. That was the thing I think—it was a warning to us that this is serious; don’t mess with us. They threw things around, they stole things—it was unbelievable, unimaginable for a country that was supposedly a democratic country.

“I was arrested on a bogus charge of having an illegal firearm—a firearm without a license. At the very beginning of the day, one of the GSU soldiers, one of the GSU officers, took all of my firearm licenses and put them in his vest. When he took them out to check the firearms, this one was missing. They charged me for having a firearm without a license; took me to Belize City. Fortunately, we had copies. We showed up later at the police station with the copies. Even then it was difficult to get out. I had to get the intervention of the American embassy to get released. By the time I got to Belize, it was sixteen hours later. I slept until two a.m. on a concrete floor at the Queen’s Street Police Station until the embassy finally convinced someone to release me. They confiscated my passport and claimed they didn’t have it. The entire day was an incredible nightmare.

“This is clearly a military dictatorship where people are allowed to go and harass citizens based on rumor alone and treat them as if they are guilty before any evidence whatsoever is obtained. It is astonishing, it is beyond belief and I intend not to let this stand. I will not stand idly by to let this happen to me. I promise you.

“It began, innocently enough, with my refusal to donate to the local political boss of the district where I lived in Orange Walk and I have given at least two million dollars in gifts to the police departments in Orange Walk, San Pedro, Belize City, to the village of Carmelita, the City of Orange Walk. I have started programs to feed children, I’ve helped mothers whose husbands have simply disappeared. I am an old man, I am sixty-six. I have a fair amount of money and not much to do. So, I spend it where I think it will do good.

“And I don’t ever invest in politics. I don’t donate to any political party; I don’t have any political affiliations. I think politics is foolish for a private citizen like myself to engage in—the winning party; you never get your money and the losing party; you’re on the outs. So, I do not.

“I refused to donate as the gentleman expected. I’ve given a million dollars to the police department, so he [thought he] should get a huge chunk and he got nothing. Immediately after that, he began—not personally but with his aids—a campaign of calling to the local radio stations on Saturday morning talk shows saying the same thing; “What are we going to do about the white man at the toll bridge? He has all of these security guards. He’s probably involved in illegal activities. Everybody is complaining about him.” 

“Nothing could be further from the truth. That politician by the way did not get re-elected.”

 

SNAKES AND LADDERS AND FLOWERS

Like John McAfee, Danny Mason proudly considered himself to be a self-made man and he did not take kindly to overt pressure to continue to be generous.

Accustomed to calling his own shots, he became financially hamstrung by the incessant UDP demands for political patronage and he needed one of his ambitious plans for business development to be accorded a green light.

Danny Mason naturally wanted some accountability for the $10,000 BZ per month he was required to make to bolster UDP operations and he was receiving minimal appreciation and accountability for his co-ownership of the football club or his massive donations to the police force made at the behest of John Saldivar.

Increasingly, Saldivar was choosing not to deal with Danny directly, sending lieutenants to collected fealty payments such as Douglas Grant, Jason Neal and Khalid Belisle.

In June of 2016, following the advice of Jesus Castillo, he considered becoming more familiar with Saldivar’s chief political rival within then UDP, Patrick Faber. Again, it was Jesus “Cas” Castillo who was greasing the wheels. He assured Danny that by providing Faber with $150,000, he could gain licenses for a slaughterhouse at the ranch and a casino operation at the house.

In the process of providing some support to Patrick Faber, Danny Mason alienated John Saldivar, the man who ran the GSU as his private secret police force.

Mark Flowers

It is clear from Mark Flowers’ statements that he, as a representative of GSU, had been sent to entrap Danny. This effort was again directly facilitated by the ever-present Jesus Castillo, who brought Flowers to Danny’s Intelco home.

When Mark Flowers came to the house on a Sunday morning, after working a night shift, Danny sensed something was amiss. Flowers had arrived with an armadillo to cook and took several shots of Bailey’s in his coffee. Danny was on his guard because Saldivar had told him Flowers was investigating Danny’s change of name—but Saldivar was still being friendly at the time and assured Danny he would take care of things.

There followed a very odd conversation in which Mark Flowers purported to have spoken to John Saldivar and advised Saldivar to give back much of the money that Danny had donated to him. This was such a clumsy and clear attempt to gain Danny’s confidence that it could not be taken seriously. Possibly this was the highest level of sophistication that GSU could muster for its undercover work. Flowers told Danny that Saldivar said he was not about to give back any money to anyone because Danny Mason had too much money already. Flowers then tried to present himself to Danny as someone who had tried to persuade John Saldivar to “do the right thing.”

Later, Flowers boasted to News 5 journalist, “Having spoken with Mason that day for perhaps an hour or maybe two, I was able to get from him certain information that I carry in terms of his birth certificate and his social security card, copies, photographs of them.”

Mark Flowers was presenting himself to the media as someone who had ostensibly outsmarted Danny Mason. Then Flowers, seemingly a cog in the wheels to discredit Mason, suddenly suffered his own fall from grace. In July, shortly after Danny Mason was arrested, GSU Superintendent Flowers was arrested and charged with allegedly engaging in sexual activities with a 14-year-old girl in the previous years. There is considerable background information to conclude these accusations were likely bogus.

According to The San Pedro Sun, “Flowers believes that he has been targeted by the Minister of National Security Honourable John Saldivar. He believes it all started after he supported Saldivar’s rival Honourable Patrick Faber during his campaign for First Deputy Leader of United Democratic Party.”

Flowers stated, “I have learned that by my virtue of posting on Facebook a couple weeks or months ago, a picture with the now Deputy Prime Minister and commenting on how charismatic this politician is, that I would have fallen out of grace and favour with Saldivar.”

As of November, 2017, the Registrar of the Supreme Court and Registrar General of Belize was no longer Velda Flowers—and agent Mark Flowers had fallen from government graces. The new Registrar of the Supreme Court and Registrar General of Belize is the former head of the Police Prosecution Branch, Trienia Marie Young, who had served as senior crown counsel in the Solicitor General Chambers until 2016. Hence, Ms. Young cannot be deemed responsible for the issuance of a false birth certificate to Mason.

There had to be some repercussions for the issuance of the phoney birth certificate, and the fact that Danny Mason was an apparent business associate of John Saldivar, hence Prime Minister Dean Barrow proceeded to invoke a semblance of disciplinary measures.

According to a BreakingBelizeNews bulletin,

“Aftеr lеаkеd dосumеntѕ ѕhоwеd thаt Маѕоn hаd ѕреnt ѕоmе $50,000 оn Ѕаldіvаr’ѕ fооtbаll tеаm, thе Веlmораn Ваndіtѕ. Рrіmе Міnіѕtеr Dеаn Ваrrоw “ѕuѕреndеd” Ѕаldіvаr fоr а wееk оvеr thе іnсіdеnt, whіlе hе ѕоught lеgаl соunѕеl оn whеthеr оr nоt Ѕаldіvаr ѕhоuld fасе ѕоmе kіnd оf реnаltу fоr hіѕ tіеѕ tо Маѕоn.

“Ваrrоw ѕаіd thаt hіѕ аdvіѕоrѕ dеtеrmіnеd thаt thеrе wаѕ nо асtіоnаblе wrоng оn Ѕаldіvаr’ѕ раrt, аnd hе wаѕ ‘rеѕtоrеd’ аftеr thе ѕuѕреnѕіоn wаѕ lіftеd. Nоtаblу, Ѕаldіvаr еnјоуеd аll hіѕ mіnіѕtеrіаl рrіvіlеgеѕ whіlе оn ѕuѕреnѕіоn, but duе tо thе ѕuѕреnѕіоn dіd nоt hаvе tо fulfіll аnу оf hіѕ mіnіѕtеrіаl оblіgаtіоnѕ.

“Тhе Рrіmе Міnіѕtеr dіd ѕрlіt thе Міnіѕtrу оf Nаtіоnаl Ѕесurіtу іntо thе Міnіѕtrіеѕ оf Ноmе Аffаіrѕ аnd Dеfеnсе аnd рut Ѕаldіvаr іn сhаrgе оf thе Dеfеnсе mіnіѕtrу whісh соmрrіѕеd оf thе Веlіzе Dеfеnсе Fоrсе аnd Соаѕt Guаrd. Міnіѕtеr Gоdwіn Нulѕе thеn tооk оvеr thе rеѕроnѕіbіlіtу fоr thе роlісе dераrtmеnt іn thе Ноmе Аffаіrѕ mіnіѕtrу.

“Ѕіnсе thеn thе Веlіzе Nаtіоnаl Теасhеrѕ Unіоn, durіng іtѕ 2016 Ѕtаnd uр fоr Веlіzе Саmраіgn, саllеd fоr аn іndереndеnt іnvеѕtіgаtіоn іntо thе Luсаѕ murdеr аѕ а раrt оf іtѕ еіght-роіnt dеmаndѕ. Whіlе thе BNTU gоt mоѕt оf whаt іt аѕkеd fоr, thеrе hаѕ bееn, tо dаtе, nо tаngіblе еffоrt оn thе Gоvеrnmеnt оf Веlіzе’ѕ раrt tо соmmіѕѕіоn ѕuсh аn іnvеѕtіgаtіоn.

“Іn Маrсh, аѕ а rеѕроnѕе tо а ѕurgе іn vіоlеnt сrіmе, Ваrrоw rеunіtеd thе Dеfеnсе аnd Ноmе Аffаіrѕ Міnіѕtrіеѕ, аnd rеѕtоrеd Ѕаldіvаr tо hіѕ fоrmеr glоrу, nоtіng thаt hе wаѕ thе ‘bеѕt mаn fоr thе јоb.”

Ultimately, Prime Minister Dean Barrow would denigrate Danny Mason and absolve his cabinet of any and all improprieties that could have arisen: “It seems as though he [Mason] had worked his way, or perhaps wormed his way, into the good graces of a number of people. It is a political embarrassment for the government but I am satisfied, as a matter of fact, no improper activity was engaged in by any minister in consequence of that minister’s relationship with that fellow.”

John Saldivar was contrite and distanced himself with a lie: “He made some contributions to my football club, the Bandits, but that was the extent of it.”

 

THE KIDNAPPING

The issuance of a false birth certificate was not the only method by which Danny Mason was hoisted on his own petard. The most incriminating evidence against him was provided by his own video surveillance system.

Llewellyn Lucas, chronically short of money, was claiming he had strained his knee while he was at Danny’s home and he wanted either monetary compensation for his injury, or else he wanted Danny’s cooperation in signing paperwork that could allow him to qualify for government assistance. Lucas had worked at the Social Security office so he was familiar with the options available to people with work-related injuries.

“So, I still can’t get money from you,” Lucas complained on July 6, “You are playing games… I did my job, bro. I appreciate the opportunity. I am not a charity case.”

“I did not employ you,” Danny reaffirmed, “(and yet) you tell people you twisted your knees on my hill while working for me.”

Lucas contacted his friend Jesus Castillo. “See if you can talk to Danny to help me with something. It’s four weeks since I’ve gotten any money from him.”

The ever-central Jesus Castillo forwarded Lucas’s message to Mason, thereby letting him know he was now apprised of the situation. Castillo then forwarded another message from Lucas in which Lucas alleged someone was out to kill him for only $150. Lucas was complaining about the fact that his life was worth so little. Mason responded to Castillo’s message with a cryptic comment, “digging himself a deeper hole.” One wonders if that off-the-cuff comment gave someone an idea. At the very least, it might serve as evidence, in a court of law, that Mason had hostile intentions to Lucas, who, in reality, was chiefly an irritant.

On the 13th of July 2016, Mason messaged Lucas saying, “Sir, I need my phone.” Lucas responded by saying, “Which phone?… You owe me. Don’t worry I’ll go through the labor department to collect. You think Saldivar and Cas will be able to help you?”

To which Mason responded, “Do as you please.”

On July 14, Mason told Lucas he had possibly found a way to help him through social security, as Lucas had been asking him to do, and he should come to his Intelco hill home to talk about it.

To be examined in greater depth in Act Three, there is a hard-to-decipher surveillance tape that depicts various workers beneath Mason’s house methodically loading three men into the back of Danny’s pick-up over the course of approximately fifteen minutes.

In November, 2019, only a short time before she delivered her verdict, Judge Moore was rumoured to be still uncertain about the viability of the surveillance videos from Danny’s house that purportedly reveal Danny and his four “henchmen” forcibly kidnapping Llewellyn Lucas and two pastors who had accompanied him during another of Lucas’ attempts to acquire money.

We now know those tapes have been doctored to some degree. But even though the images of the men involved are faceless, the location is undeniable and it is hard to imagine this footage of apparent abductions was entirely staged with actors with body types similar to those of the accused.

 

THE TRIAL

On the first day of proceedings in March of 2019, Mason’s esteemed attorney Dickie Bradley withdrew his representation. This was an enormous blow.

On March 22, 2019, subsequent lawyers Herbert Panton and Rachel Montejo further lessened Mason’s chances of acquittal when they, too, reportedly “stepped away from the case.”

In his own words, Panton asked the court “to be relieved from defending the five accused.” Montejo, as a junior lawyer, was obliged to follow Panton’s lead, even though she had been making some headway in terms or formulating an argument to disallow the controversial footage.

Panton stayed on the case just long enough to approve surveillance evidence to be accepted as evidence. He had also gleaned an understanding of what approach his predecessor might have pursued before he reneged on his responsibilities.

Only three days later, on March 25, 2019, it was announced that his wife, a cabinet minister, was planning to run for the position of First Deputy Party Leader of the United Democratic Party knowing the leading candidate to replace Dean Barrow as Prime Minister at the time was going to be John Saldivar.

Four of the co-defendants were forced to accept court-appointed attorney; Danny Mason retained an attorney from Guyana.

There was no public indication that Judge Antoinette Moore examined whether any of those three aforementioned attorneys who quit the case were presented with threats or incentives to quit.

When Danny’s Guyanese hired a local attorney to assist with then case, Michelle Trapp, she was immediately threatened by one of the guards. The judge was made aware. Nothing came of it.

When the Guyanese attorney Dexter Todd was working on the case at the Intelco Hill house, police officers jumped over the fence and conducted a raid on the presumption that someone’s stolen cel phone might be on the premises. They refused to allow Melissa to take a photo of the search warrant that they would only flash before her eyes. Eight police officers rampaged through the house. Dexter Todd, himself a former policeman, was spooked and appalled. Dexter Todd immediately packed his bags and left the house, intimidated. He, too, reported this incident to the judge. Nothing came of it.

A sophisticated and bolder defence team would have raised the possibility that decapitation of the corpse could have easily been undertaken by parties other than the accused murderers and that an invitation to come to Mr. Sancho’s Bar from Jesus Castillo could have been a set-up. Specifically, defence counsel could and should have petitioned the court to obtain access to Castillo’s phone calls that night.

Castillo also sent some texts on Danny’s phone that night of the arrests, according to Melissa, who claims she can easily distinguish between messages sent by her husband or Castillo. At 8:40 pm, she received a message on Danny’s phone saying, “I’m looking for my keys. So sorry it is taking so long.” Her husband would never send her a message apologize for being late when it was still only 8:40 pm. It is more evidence to suggest that Castillo, the man who invited Danny to come to the bar four times, had an agenda that night that had nothing to do with friendship.

Even the ordinary citizenry of Belize is still questioning how on God’s godforsaken earth could this trial have happened without Jesus Castillo being ordered to testify.

The trial of the “Mason Five” never did establish a convincing rationale for the killing. Nonetheless, according to Love FM, in her summary judgement, Justice Antoinette Moore concluded a guilty verdict for all had been reached by proving “five elements” of the case:

The prosecution had to prove that Llewellyn Lucas was indeed dead.  The decapitated head along with the family’s identification of the remains, were enough for the judge. 

“The second element was death by harm.  According to Justice Moore while there was no corpse to prove what the cause of death was, the prosecution presented precedence and a strong argument along with the forensic report to confirm that Pastor Lucas was harmed. 

“The third element is collusion or joint enterprise.  While the defence counsel argued that they were not in control of the vehicle that carried the head, Justice Moore did not allow that argument to stand as portions of the surveillance footage did show that the five men participated in getting the deceased into a vehicle and driving away the car that the victim initially arrived in. 

“The fourth element was intent to kill and the fifth element was that the killing was without lawful justification.”

After a fifteen-minute recess, she continued:

“Justice Moore looked at four main points presented by the defence counsel and explained why they did not carry weight in her decision.  The arguments by the defence counsel had to do with the jurisdiction, the handling of evidence and cross contamination as well as not being in control of the vehicle and the clarity of the surveillance footage.  Justice Moore went on to explain that when all evidence came together, it made the prosecution’s case extremely strong and that even if one piece of evidence was struck out or excluded, the case would still remain strong. 

“She then concluded that there was a mountain of reliable and probative evidence against the accused men. 

“In conclusion, Justice Moore commended the police and the investigating officer, Holly Vasquez, in acting swiftly in collecting surveillance footage and evidence in order to build the case.  As we noted earlier, Justice Moore has deferred sentencing to a later date.” 

The Minister of National Security John Saldivar, issued a press release:

“I want to first thank the Almighty for working through his instruments here on earth to secure this clear and resounding victory for the Lucas family and all the friends of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas. Justice has been served.  I also want to thank the Director of Public Prosecution and her staff, the investigators of the Police Department, the Scenes of Crimes Technicians, the witnesses, and all who played a part in securing this guilty verdict. The perpetrators of this heinous crime have been brought to justice.  Though the verdict cannot bring back Llewellyn, it is my hope that the family can find some solace in this triumph of our justice system. Let us now work on the way forward to making our country more secure and prosperous.” 

This trial procedure, in which the defendants were not adequately represented with consistent legal advice, was also remiss for failing to acknowledge an earlier matter that concerned the wife of the Prime Minister of Belize—a matter that has been entirely overlooked by the country at large, as well as the judicial sphere.

*

Next: It is likely Belizeans have paid more to purchase used medical equipment than they would have paid for new medical equipment after the First Lady of Belize kiboshed a signed contract with iCloud Inc., the medical equipment supply company owned by Danny Mason and Melissa Ferguson, thereby providing the couple with an opportunity to sue the government of Belize for approximately $400,000 U.S. should they decide to pursue a lawsuit.

*

[Although I’m an American I have used British spellings throughout because the majority of readers will likely in Belize where British grammar holds sway. – G.W.]