St. John's man mistakenly released from jail
Man facing sexual assault charge is set free, despite his protests
An inmate was mistakenly released from jail in St. John's — even after trying to persuade guards, sheriff's officers, court staff and police that he should remain locked up.
Manuel John Clark, 34, was taken from Her Majesty's Penitentiary to provincial court for a bail hearing Tuesday. But since Clark wasn't scheduled to have a bail hearing Tuesday, he was told he was free to go.
Clark is charged with sexually assaulting a woman in downtown St. John's in early July. He was granted bail on that charge in July but wasn't to be released until Aug. 16 because he's serving time for shoplifting and failing to show up for court.
When court staff saw he had been granted bail on the sex charge, they didn't check his other charges and wouldn't listen when he said he should stay in custody, his lawyer says.
"When they released him, he had a discussion with the sheriff's officers and they said 'if you don't leave, we are going to arrest you,'" Bob Buckingham said with a laugh.
Buckingham said Clark then went to the police station to say that he should be in jail.
"They said, 'if they released you, we don't know anything about it,'" he said.
Clark tried the court again, by phone.
"And they said 'You're released, that's it,'" Buckingham said. Eventually, somebody clued in that Clark shouldn't be on the street, he said.
Police called his cellphone and picked him up at a friend's house.
The provincial justice department is conducting a review of the incident.