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Update on Fulton Family in Gambian Prison

Posted by Rick on January 7, 2009

Here is an update about the Fulton’s; missionaries that have been arrested in Gambia:

U.K. Missionaries Sentenced to Hard Labor in Gambia

By Christopher Maiby
Epoch Times Staff

Two Christian missionaries in The Republic of Gambia in South Africa have been sentenced to one year’s hard labor after pleading guilty to distributing a letter criticizing Gambia’s government.

The U.K. couple, who have an adopted 2-year-old daughter, have 20 days to appeal against their sentence in one of Africa’s smallest countries.

Mr. David Fulton from Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland, and his wife, Fiona, from Torquay in Devon, England, apologized and admitted the sedition in the hope of a favorable verdict from the magistrate.

“Any lawyer will tell you if you plead guilty to a charge, the court is more likely to treat you with leniency because … you have not wasted the court’s time and … you have not put the state to the trouble and expense of having a full-blown trial,” their counsel told the BBC’s Focus on Africa.

However, the magistrate, Idrissa Mbai, said: “I found the offenses of the accused party to be very shocking and they have shown no respect for the country, the government, and the president of the republic.

“In this country there is a law that one has to obey, whether Gambian or non-Gambian.”

At the time of their arrest Mr. Fulton, a previous British army major, had been working as a chaplain to Gambia’s military. His wife looked after terminally ill people and visited women in their homes and in hospitals.

The couple met 20 years ago when he was serving a sentence for armed robbery in Channings Wood jail in England. She was a prison visitor talking to inmates about Christianity. They have been in Gambia for 12 years.

After their arrest on Nov. 29, Mr. Fulton was put in solitary confinement at the high-security Mile Two prison outside Banjul. His wife was held with their 2-year-old adopted daughter Elizabeth at a police station in the capital. The couple’s two other children, Iona, 20, and Luke, 17, are studying in Exeter, England.

After moving to the country with his wife and children, Mr. Fulton established a branch of the Christian organization Prison Fellowship International in The Gambia and worked in the Gambian prison system.

An article from Prison Fellowship International, in August 2004, states that a prisoner claimed Mr. Fulton was trying to convert prison inmates to Christianity. He was subsequently offered the post of chaplain to the Gambian military.

The country is a former British colony which became independent in 1965. It has been ruled by the same regime since 1994 when Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh claimed the presidency following a bloodless coup.

Despite recent elections being given clean bill of health foreign observers, an Amnesty report said, “Lawyers are reluctant to take on human rights cases for fear of reprisals and families of victims are afraid to speak out. The media, for the most part, censors itself in the face of arrests, fines, threats and physical attacks on those accused of criticizing the government. All public protests have ceased.”

The Fulton’s 2-year-old daughter will be looked after by friends.

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2 Responses to “Update on Fulton Family in Gambian Prison”

  1. tony said

    The story of David and Fiona Fulton, the convicted British couple who are serving a one-year jail term for sedition, here in The Gambia, once again takes centre stage.

    This time round, it is a British newspaper that has dug deep into the “bizarre” lifestyle of the beleaguered couple. At the beginning of the trial, it had emerged that David had served a term in prison for armed robbery. In fact, it was in prison that he was said to have met his wife, Fiona. In an article, titled: “Missionary sentenced to hard labour in ‘hellhole’ prison had a child by Gambian man” the Mail on Sunday, a major newspaper in Britain, gave account of how Fiona defied her supposed religions teachings, cheated on her husband and had an affair with a Gambian man.

    “While evangelists worldwide last week sent messages of sympathy and began raising funds to pay their fine, the Mail on Sunday can reveal the full extent of the couple’s bizarre life as missionaries and how they scandalised the Christian community in The Gambia,” the report states.

    The two-year old girl the couple brought to their court hearing was described as their adopted daughter, Elizabeth. But it later emerged that Elizabeth was actually the product of an affair Fiona had had with a Gambian soldier. The report alleged that the lawyer of the convicts, their family members and friends have all attested to this.

    Her adultery alienated fellow Christians while the couple were working as evangelists, holding prayer meetings, leading bible studies funded from Britain, and converting local people. Young Elizabeth was born at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Britain, on February 11, 2006. Fiona, 46, is named as the baby’s mother on the birth certificate and David, described as a military chaplain, is named as the father.

    They had travelled to England during the pregnancy and returned to The Gambia once Elizabeth was born, expecting to be accepted back into the society here.
    The Mail on Sunday reported Fiona’s 80 year-old father, Peter McMinn, as saying that the marriage between his daughter and David had been ‘under some strain’ due to her pregnancy.

    He added: “David is not Elizabeth’s father. But he loves that child.” Mr McMinn is also said to have been paying regular sums of £1,000 into David’s bank account “to help with expenses in The Gambia.” The Mail on Sunday also states: “The truth is that David, 60, reinvented himself on arrival in The Gambia in 1999”.

    Born in the small Scottish town of Kilmarnock, he spent his early adulthood variously as a golf course green keeper, a manager at a local garage and a mile services supervisor. He married at the age of 24 in 1773, and has an ex-wife, Lydianne, a son, Paul, now 32, and daughter, Lisa, 28. He married Fiona in 1988. When they arrived in The Gambia, the Fultons were a compact family with their children Inoa, then 11, and Luke, seven. They spent a holiday in the country and felt ‘a calling’ to preach here. The couple claimed to be trained evangelists who would show local people the true path to God.

    Fiona began to visit the sick and elderly, and took books and sewing material to women prisoners. David joined the Omega Evangelist Church in Latrikunda and announced that he was setting up a Gambian branch of Prison Fellowship International to take Christianity to inmates across the country. He astonished the congregation and Pastor Matthias George with tales of heroic deeds in the British army, of rising to the rank of major, but then extraordinarily, falling into crime and robbing security vehicles ‘all over England’.

    Pastor George said: “David wasn’t like other English members of our church. He came here with big stories and I didn’t like that. He wasn’t humble and accepting, he wanted to take over my church and my flock.” Later David was to come privately to see Pastor George and tell him of Fiona’s affair and pregnancy. “I was utterly shocked. I remember weeping. David seemed calm but I was shocked to the core.

    How could a Christian woman, visiting the sick and preaching from the Bible, go behind her husband’s back and commit adultery? This woman, who had seen the devastation of AIDs, had been having unprotected sex with a Gambian soldier. I told them both that they must confess in public and pray with the whole congregation. They refused and we all got angry.

    They left my church and by then I looked on them as cockroaches, dislikeable creatures that do harm and then flee when the light of truth is shone on them,” narrated the pastor. David had initially impressed Pastor George by telling him that more than 20 years earlier he had served time in Dartmoor prison for armed robbery but had found God and converted to Christianity. He also said he had met Fiona when she was a prison visitor who helped him pray.

    But tales of his dramatic life, including an account of undercover helicopter missions where he took charge, were a fantasy. David had never been in the British army. While awaiting trial last month, the British high commission reportedly sent a consular assistant ‘to clarify matters’. Deputy high commissioner Graham Birse confirmed: “We asked him directly if he had ever been in the British army. He said no.”

  2. john b ndour said

    i am very sorry for the fulton familly;i new them very well, specially david.i am not saying about the past time.what i knew is david is a kind man.and we shoud remember that we are christiens. all what we have to do is
    to prays for them and help them to change.and we most remember that we are all siners and fall ; may god forgive them in jesus migthy name.peace and peace.

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