‘She’s lost everything’, says mother of woman held in Dominican Republic
Over the last seven months, mum Nicole Reyes has lost everything – her husband, her home and her freedom. Locked up in jail in the Dominican Republic, where she is being held without charge, she lives for the daily phone calls to her family at home in Rumney.
She calls her parents, Jeanette and Michael Clements, several times a day – something they say is the only thing keeping her going. But as she prepares for her eighth month in jail, Jeanette says her daughter is in a “bad way”.
Nicole, 37, was arrested in July last year on suspicion of killing her husband, Jorge, 38, when he died in a car crash. But Jeanette said the authorities over there have not charged her.
She said: “My daughter is in a bad way, she’s very low.
“I come off the phone and cry.
“I can’t believe she’s in that position.
“The only thing keeping her going now is ringing here.”
Nicole shares a cell with two other women in a prison in Santiago where Jeanette said there are “rats the size of cats”. Jeanette said the prison provides her with porridge or drinking chocolate and bread each morning and rice and beans or chicken and rice. But Jeanette said the food is “disgusting” and Nicole buys food for herself from a shop inside the prison and lives on a diet of crackers and prunes. Jeanette said she even has to buy her own toilet roll.
For the first six weeks, Jeanette said her daughter was kept in a prison in Puerto Plata.
She said: “She saw people being beaten and people shackled against the wall on chains.”
She said the prison had no windows, that her daughter had to sleep on the floor with a bucket in the corner for a toilet. Jeanette said they even had to send money so Nicole would be fed.
Nicole survives on the money sent to her by her parents who send every penny they have to make her life a little more bearable. This includes paying for Nicole’s medication, which last week cost around £150, and a doctor who recently diagnosed a series of conditions involving inflammation of the bowel.
Jeanette said: “We were told her intestine is infected with bacteria.
“She has also put on a stone in weight because her body is so swollen from the infection.”
The couple say they have spent thousands of pounds on Nicole’s legal fees as her lawyer now tries to move her case to another court because of fears of corruption. But Jeanette said this could take months and so Nicole faces more time waiting in jail. The couple also had to pay for security to look after Nicole’s home and the home they had bought out there.
Jeanette said: “She had three dogs and left the house that night expecting to go back there later.”
But despite paying around £600 a month for security the couple flew out in December to find both homes had been stripped of everything.
Jeanette said: “She can never go back there.
“She’s lost everything.
“Her husband, her dogs and her home.”
The couple have now sold the properties so they can use the money to help Nicole. But they said they lost this money when the cash cheque, along with the rest of their hand luggage, was stolen from the airport and claim it was cashed in America.
“We were absolutely devastated and we were told there was nothing we could do,” Jeanette said.
Nicole met Jorge, an odd job man, after moving to the Dominican Republic with her family nine years ago. She worked as a holiday rep for Thomas Cook and they married a year later in May 2007. Jeanette said they were very much in love and that he idealized Nicole and her children.
“They had an amazing life and were so happy,” she said.
On the night of Jorge’s death, Jeanette said Nicole had been to visit friends at a hotel.
She said: “He was on his motorbike and she was in a Jeep.
“He was travelling in the middle of the road and she told him to get over to the other side because it was dangerous.”
She said he moved over but that some cars were coming the other way and so she slightly moved over but tipped the back end of the bike.
Jeanette said: “He’d always be laughing and joking on his motorbike.
“But he had no crash helmet on and no lights.”
She said her daughter realised he was under the Jeep and was screaming to people standing nearby for help. But Jeanette said the culture there is not to help during an accident for fear of becoming involved or blamed. Jeanette said Nicole hasn’t even had the chance to grieve for her husband.
She said: “All she keeps saying is I want to come out and grieve for him.
“If he was alive he would go crazy about the way she’s been treated.
“He idealised her and he loved the children.”
Jeanette and Michael are now appealing for help in trying to get their daughter back to the UK.
Jeanette said: “I want to do anything I possibly can to get my daughter out of the conditions she’s in.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are aware of the detention of a British national in the connection with the death of a Dominican national.
“Ms Reyes has lawyers working on her behalf and the case is continuing.
“We are providing consular assistance to her and her family.”
Source: Alison Sanders, WalesOnline
Category: DR News |