On October 26 it created a spectacle when armed police officers and members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) converged on the Cemetery Lane residence of Elaine Yearwood and her family. Their purpose was to install a gacho shop, property of a businesswoman previously located on Albert Street West behind the law offices of Barrow and Williams. Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams, a principal of that firm, encouraged the relocation as he claimed a section of the Yearwood property as being in his family for generations. After dramatic confrontation between the family and the Police, the structure was left in place while both sides awaited developments. The matter was heard in court today and several revelations made. First, to the purpose of the hearing, which was an application to discharge an ex parte injunction against four members of the Yearwood family preventing them from going on the property. Attorney for Elaine and her daughter Sharrett Yearwood, Audrey Matura Shepherd, explains how that was resolved.
“After the incident when the Belize Police and the BDF came unto the Young’s family and there was that huge major commotion, many people did not know that Mr. Rodwell Williams Jr. bought an injunction against four of our clients and when I said our clients, Mr. Sylvester represents two and I represent two. That is Ms. Sharret Yearwood, Ms. Elaine Yearwood, Mr. Gary Yearwood and Mr. Keith Yearwood; they bought an injunction saying that they cannot go on the property on defray on the property or anything like that, but I realize that they are not the people living there, but they are part of the claimants in the sense that they claim under the will of their great-great grandfather. So, that injunction was bought against them. Sadly, my two clients, Ms. Elaine Yearwood and Ms. Sharret Yearwood never got served that decision of the court because until late last week and we quickly acted on it. What we did was to apply for an order to discharge that injunction, meaning that Mr. Rodwell Williams Sr. and Junior cannot stop them from doing anything; we made that application today. The end result of that application is that the judge did grant us our application because the other party… they applied to continue the injunction. So, there is no injunction over these four people”.
The Yearwoods had to agree that they would not venture onto that section of the property, as they have been accused of trespassing on the 16 foot by 18 foot plot that both sides have long regarded as their own, but Williams is not similarly barred because the court said it could not go so far at an interim stage. The second major bombshell has to do with possession of the property and how the younger Williams obtained registered title on behalf of his elderly father Rodwell Sr.
Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd: “After the incident that we had , we decided that we would pay researches to go and find the boot of title to see how it passed hand. We were able to get some documents from the Lands Department; I don’t know who was tallying or if there was an error but we were having a very hard time getting access to the documents. There is still one we need to see, but what we will tell you is that interestingly, in 1998, Mr. Rodwell Sr. the father (because the land is in Sr., not the Junior’s name) applied for this land for prescription (prescription means that we have been here undisturbed and I want the land. What was interesting is that they went to court in 1999, and when they went to court, we would say, without proper evidence, they granted him that aver that he was asking for, that he could get title. Then but it was until 2007 that they he applied to the Lands Department”.
It seems that the younger Williams, who is out of the country and was represented in court today by colleague Nigel Ebanks of Barrow and Williams, has all the moves when it comes to this dispute. We asked Shepherd about reports that Williams intends to build on the property which seemed to us a clear violation of good faith practice in a case such as this.
Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd: “Well, it shows. In court Mr. Evans was instructed not to give an undertaking to maintain the status quo that the little piece of land is vacant, there is nothing on it and there is no structure. The court tried to get the other side to see if they would give an undertaking that they would not touch it until the dispute is settled, but Mr. Evans said that they are not taking one and two because they have title that they say it’s ineffaceable, but that’s not fully true. The law says that in one way, in which a title can be defeated is where it is obtained by fraud. So, clearly, we will not just accept that he has a title. That’s the most I say”.
A date has not been set for full trial. Mr. Anthony Sylvestre represents Gary Yearwood and nephew Shawn Martinez.