After death of Aussie accused of child sex crime, taxi driver has ‘no lawyer’
With Australian inmate Hilton Munro gone, the future looks more bleak for the Ilonggo taxi driver who was arrested with him.
Gilbert Andrada, 42, said their case of human trafficking and child abuse was dragging due to unclear arrangements for a defense lawyer.
“Sige’g hearing sige pod ka postpone kay walay lawyer,” he told Cebu Daily News.
“Wa na man mi abogado.”
(Court hearings were always postponed because there’s no lawyer. We don’t have legal counsel anymore.)
Since he’s an indigent, with no means of income, the driver can have his s case referred for free legal aid.
Marco Toral, Capitol security consultant for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), said he would refer Andrada’s case to the Public Attorney’s Office.
“He was included in the arrest of Munro because he was hired as the driver.
So now he can’t afford on his own to retain the services of a lawyer. I’ll refer him to PAO,” said Toral.
Munro was found dead in his cell on Saturday morning, an apparent suicide after detention of almost two years in the CPDRC on a charge of child sex abuse involving four boys in the Stakili resort in Compostela town in July 2013.
Munro was found hanging with a blanket tied around his neck. The noose was tied to one of the grill bars of his cell.
Andrada said Munro, a former hockey player and sports instructor in an international school in Hong Kong, had lost hope of getting out of jail and was frustrated by the slow pace of their case.
Before ending his life, the Australian have two handrwritten letters to Andrada sometime last year.
One letter cleared the driver of participation in the 2013 incidents that led to their arrest. (The driver was accused of procuring the boys for Munro although the Australian said it was another youngster, who contacted other boys.)
The second letter mentioned the names of two Cebu lawyers whom Munro said he paid to handle his legal defense. Munro also promised to transfer his remaining account of $250,000 to Andrada for use of his family if the driver would protect him for three months in jail and “help me find (a) painless end to my life.”
Toral said he already told the driver to preserve the letter because it could help him in his criminal case.
“I advised him to photocopy the letter he received from Munro. This will help his case. Toral told CDN.
Munro’s counsel on record, Gines Abellana, did not return phone calls of CDN. CDN wanted to verify the driver’s allegation that Munro had retained his services to also defend Andrada.
According to the driver, the lawyer at one point promised to secure their freedom in “three weeks”. That was over a year ago.
Then arrangements for a legal defense got muddled.
“Kana si Gines iya na gihatag nako para abogado. Ang plano ato i-combine silang duha pero di man sila magkasinabot,” said Andrada.
He said a third lawyer was contacted and a P20,000 acceptance fee was paid.
In the first letter, Munro mentioned paying P980,000 to a female lawyer.
Andrada told CDN his imprisonment has taken a toll on his family .During his absence, one of his three sons got into trouble and now is in a facility for juvenile offenders facing a charge for illegal drugs.
“Guba na jud kaayo akong pamilya. Igo ra man tawon ko nanarbaho,” said Andrada.
(My family is broken. I was just earning a living as a driver.)
The remains of Munro were brought to a mortuary, which is awaiting advice from the Australian Embassy.
READ BACK STORY: Australian, taxi driver arrested in Compostela beach resort
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