An elderly couple, who have proof that they farmed land in the Pinewood Gardens area for decades, say there was no fraud in their obtaining title for the land now claimed by Arawak Homes.
Today’s Tribune newspaper carries a story about Leroy Brown and his wife Dorothy, an elderly couple who live on Buttonwood Avenue, near Nassau Village. The couple claim that they farmed the land since the 1970’s and that John Sands’ quieting of title for the property was legal.
The land they farmed was conveyed to them for $20,000 after Mr Sands quieted the title.
The Browns say they were part of a group of farmers growing tomatoes, mangoes and other produce that they sold to the Ministry of Agriculture’s packing house for more than 30 years.
However, in 2003, disgraced Supreme Court Justice Jon Lyons ruled that Mr Sands’ quieting action was fraudulent. He ruled that Arawak Homes Ltd was the rightful owner of the 156-acre tract of land.
Ten years earlier, the Browns had filed a Supreme Court action against Arawak Homes for trespassing on their land and destroying the top soil at their farm with heavy duty vehicles.
Mysteriously, their two-bedroom home on the land was destroyed by fire.
Mr and Mrs Brown told the Tribune newspaper that nothing ever came of the court action.
Meanwhile, President of Arawak Homes Ltd Franon Wilson, who was still wet behind the ears back then, continues to reference the errant Supreme Court judge’s decision.
“I am not familiar with (the case of) Mr and Mrs Brown but it seems as though based on their statement that they have not read, or sought independent counsel to review the Supreme Court rulings regarding John Sands’ tract of land handed down by (former) Justice Jon Lyons. We would invite them to do so,” Mr Wilson is quoted by The Tribune as saying.
Arawak Homes continues to rely on a ruling handed down by an obvioulsy suspect judge who resigned after it was discovered that he was having an affair with the sister of an accountant, who he demanded be given a million dollar contract to audit the transactions in a controversial financial dispute.
In another bizarre judgement, that same judge inexplicably refused to evict squatters, allegedly financed by Mr Wilson, from a building on Mackey Street.
Wilson is alleged to have gotten much of his disputed property by finagling land titles that were allegedly stolen from a safe in a building that Mr Wilson and his crony Neil Ellis rented space in.
The pair owned a business called Chicken Unlimted, which they declared bankrupt in the late 1970’s. Yet shortly afterwards, each had enough money to start sprawling business empires. It has never been made clear how two bankrupt individuals had the cash to start such capital intensive businesses.
Another, more recent court ruling in Arawak Homes’ favour was made by Chief Justice Michael Barnett. The irony is that Mr Barnett’s law firm, Graham Thompson, was allegedly involved in the transfer of many disputed titles back in the 1980’s.
Mr Barnett’s firm also once reviewed a case involving the building on Mackey Street that was, and is currently, inhabited by squatters. The firm refused to take the case. At least one person has suggested that the firm refused the case after it was discovered that Mr Wilson was allegedly financing the squatter’s legal representation.
Another irony is Carl Bethel’s involvement. Mr Bethel is representing landowners who are contesting Arawak Home’s ownership of the land. Yet, it has been claimed that Bethel was once an attorney for Franklyn Wilson and allegedly was involved in handling land transactions for Arawak Homes.
Mr Bethel was Attorney General at the time of one of the many the court cases regarding the squatters in the building on Mackey Street. Despite clear evidence of judicial misconduct on the part of Bahamas judge Stanley Moore, Mr Bethel refused to get involved. After hearing a complaint against Mr Wilson for his possible involvement in the dispute, Mr Bethel was later overheard by a clerk personally telephoning Mr Wilson, allegedly to give him a “heads up.”
There are enough anomalies in the history of the disputed land that there should be an independent investigation into its ownership, rather than reliance on decisions made by rogue judges and allegedly suspect government officials.