Plight of British mother locked in squalid Dominican jail for a YEAR without charge after ‘she killed husband in a road accident’
A British mother of two has been held in a ‘squalid’ jail in the Dominican Republic for a year without charge after she allegedly ran over her husband – whom she met while living in the country.
Nicole Reyes, 37, originally from Rumney, Cardiff, was locked up last July after Jorge Quintanilla, 38, died when her Toyota SUV was said to have clipped his motorbike, which he was driving alongside.
Now her mother Jeannette, 61, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling on him to help get her daughter released so she can return home – one year after she was first put in custody.
She said in a four-page letter to Mr Cameron: ‘My daughter feels like she is being tortured every single day. I have to listen to her sobbing.’
Reyes swapped South Wales for the sands and seas of the Caribbean 10 years ago. She travelled there on holiday – but fell in love with the country and became a holiday rep with Thomas Cook.
Shortly after moving to the idylic island she met Mr Quintanilla and the pair enjoyed a whirlwind romance. They moved into the resort community of Costambar near the coastal city of Puerto Plata.
But their relationship ended in tragedy after he was killed when Reyes clipped his motorbike with her vehicle as they drove home from a meal out. She has been held without charge ever since.
She is accused of deliberately running him over, but Reyes claims he died when she hit his motorbike as he swerved out of the way of an oncoming car. She is currently in jail in Puerto Plata on the island.
Police suspect the wife of the former coconut water seller snapped when she learnt he had cheated on her after they spent a night out on the town with friends.
Reyes is accused of crushing Mr Quintanilla to death after knocking him off his 125cc Yamaha motorcycle with her Toyota four-wheel drive.
A coroner found injuries consistent with his body being hit at least twice. Investigators are looking at whether the victim tried to call police before he was killed late in the evening on July 10, 2012.
The crash took place at the entrance to the resort of Cofresi. The couple met after Mrs Melhuish travelled from Wales to the Dominican in 2004 following the collapse of her second marriage.
She began working in the travel industry, and in 2006, started working for Thomas Cook – helping to transfer tourists between destinations before becoming a fully-fledged holiday worker.
Mr Quintanilla was well-known locally after spending years selling soft drinks in a local square.
Reyes’s father Donald Edwards, 61, last year said he feared for her safety and called on the authorities to step in, adding: ‘To think she is in prison in another country is heart-breaking.’
In the letter to the Prime Minister, her mother wrote: ‘She tells me she wants to die. I must stress that the time is past for the Foreign Office to continue to spout platitudes.
‘If something is not done quite soon, the result for Nicole and my family could be disastrous.’
Her parents Jeannette and Mike have been caring for Reyes’s teenage children Leah and Luke at their home in Cardiff, while she has been held.
Leah said in an letter to her mother: ‘It’s been a year today. My thoughts are with you today even more mum, just stay strong and chin up, because we know you didn’t do it. You will be home soon.’
Jeannette said the year-long fight to get justice for her daughter has cost the family £100,000, adding: ‘I’m exhausted but I have to keep going. I’d do anything to have Nicole home.
‘As a family we have put all our effort and money together to support Nicole – we will lose our house if that’s what it takes.
‘So far we have spent over £100,000 on lawyers, flights, supplies and support for Nicole.
‘I can’t sleep. I think about her in that place every second of the day. She is so desperate now. Her health is suffering – she keeps contracting infections in the squalid prison conditions.
‘I can’t stand to hear her sobbing down the phone to me every day. It breaks my heart that I can’t be there for her.’
Fair Trials International is a human rights organisation which helps people and their families to navigate legal systems in foreign countries.
A spokesman said: ‘Individuals arrested in the Dominican Republic may face lengthy periods of pre-trial detention in prison conditions falling far below international standards.
‘It is a criminal justice system reported to be struggling with poor administration and corruption. Foreign nationals with little knowledge of the local language and the legal system are particularly vulnerable to breaches of their basic rights to a fair trial.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the detention of a British national, Nicole Reyes, in connection with the death of a Dominican national in July 2012.
‘We have been providing consular assistance to Mrs Reyes and her family since her detention and we continue to do so.’
Source: Daily Mail.co.uk
Category: DR News |