Prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel. (iWN file photo)

Police officers who responded to a report of a commotion at Randy’s Supermarket in Kingstown showed they were “prejudicial” when the only persons they removed from the business place were two men who are now the virtual complaints in a wounding trial.

That was the conclusion of prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel in her closing submissions at the Kingstown Magistrate Court on Tuesday.

The closing submission — for a second time — came after Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett reopened the trial so that the court could watch a video of what had transpired at the supermarket almost two years earlier on Feb. 21, 2017.

The video was never tendered into evidence after the magistrate observed that he had repeatedly heard about but had never seen it.

The magistrate will give his decision on Nov. 23 in the case in which Raymond Cato, 63, of New Montrose, is charged that on Feb. 21, 2017, at Kingstown, he did assault Glenroy David of Redemption Sharpes with intent to commit an offence, to wit, wounding.

Cato is further charged that on the same date and place, he did unlawfully and maliciously wound Jawanza Phillips of Redemption Sharpes.

The accused, Raymond Cato, leaves Kingstown Magistrate’s Court after the end of his trial. (iWN photo)

On Tuesday, detective Constable Darrel Sam told the court that he went to the supermarket on Feb. 22, 2017, and was shown surveillance footage of the incident.

He said that the management of the supermarket gave him a copy of the footage, which he handed over to PC Joseph on Nov. 5, 2018.

During cross examination by defence counsel Israel Bruce, Sam told the court that he had watched the footage but did not think that it was critical to justice in the matter. He, however, said that he was not suggesting that the footage was of no evidential value.

The junior rank said he wrote a narrative of his findings and forwarded it to his superior officer and kept in his possession from then until Nov. 5 this year, the flash drive on which the supermarket had copied the footage.

He said that on Nov. 5, the police IT department burned the video to a disc and handed back the flash drive to him.

Asked if he was able to copy the disc for the purpose of disclosure, the detective said no.

He said that he had made “an error when” he did not indicate when he testified in the trial earlier that he had been given the footage.

“It’s written in my statement,” Sam told the court.

At this point, Bruce checked his documents then told the court that he did not have a copy of Sam’s statement. He asked no further questions.

As the prosecutor redirected him, Sam told the court that, in the first instance, he was investigating three reports in relation to the incident.

He said he had written three statements, but had only referred to the footage in the statements he made regarding complaints made by Cato and Phillips.

The detective said that the evidence he gave in the trial related to Phillips and David as virtual complainants.

The virtual complainant, Jawanza Phillips, left, and Glenroy David outside the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court after the trial. (iWN photo)

Also testifying on Tuesday was IT specialist Police Constable Jeromie Joseph, who told the court he had burnt a copy of the footage to a non-rewriteable disc, but was unable to play it in the court because of inadequate software and had to play the video from the flash drive instead.

When the prosecution moved to enter the flash drive into evidence, Bruce rose and said that the prosecutor had not led any evidence to establish chain of custody.

During an attempt by the prosecution to establish chain of custody, the magistrate said that Bruce, by his body language, was suggesting that he was giving the prosecutor 100 per cent for leading the witness.

Bruce then rose and said that, in the interest of justice, he would not object to the flash drive being entered into evidence.

He told the court he had known that the prosecutor was going to rely on the flash drive but said she should have still asked the relevant questions to establish chain of custody.

The video — which was recorded at a faster than normal speed –was played in court several times.

In her closing submissions relevant to the video, Samuel said that the footage supports the prosecution’s case.

The Crown is alleging that the virtual complaints were in the supermarket talking to each other when the defendant went into the cold room and returned with a cutlass.

“We saw when everybody started to run,” she said.

The prosecutor said that in his evidence, David told the court that he picked up a crate. She said that this is clearly seen on the footage.

She said the men told the court that they tried to leave, but found that the door was locked, which the footage also shows.

“Yes, they were there and they were being vocal but the defendant had no right to take a cutlass and strike Phillips with it,” she said.

She said the defendant had been on the phone and could have called the police.

“He had no reason to strike, claiming he was fearful for his life,” Samuel further said, adding that while the virtual complainants were vocal, they were no threat.

Defence counsel, Israel Bruce. (iWN file photo)

Before making his submission, Bruce told the court that he had to seek the assistance of the video during his closing argument.

When the video was cued up, Bruce said that it shows the virtual complainants pursuing the defendant as he was heading to the kitchen area of the supermarket.

“It appeared that when he picked up whatever object that the virtual complaints and others ran in the other direction,” Bruce said, adding that the prosecution was suggesting that nothing had happened immediately before the defendant went into the cold room.

The lawyer said that it also appears that the virtual complainants wanted to leave after the order was given to lock the door of the supermarket.

“They wanted to leave before the police came,” Bruce said and noted that when the police came, they questioned the people there and the only two persons they took away were the virtual complainants.

“The police were prejudicial,” the prosecutor said.

“The police were prejudicial? That’s the Crown saying that,” Bruce responded.

He said that the initial absence of the video from the trial had nothing to do with the speed.

“Because even at that speed, their conduct was evident. One had to be restrained. At no point did the defendant pursue the virtual complainants,” the lawyer said.

He said that the charge in relation to David could not be supported because the video is “raw” that they were pursuing the defendant and David couldn’t then say that the defendant assaulted him.

“This video, as fast as it is, in my mind would and should aid the court in coming to the decision that he (defendant) acted within his duty and within the law. I can’t see how these charges will survive with the video, as poor as it is,” the lawyer said.

In response, the prosecutor said that the court should understand that there is an issue with the footage and it is not complete

“Obviously after getting lashed, I would want to get out,” she said in reference to the virtual complainants’ attempts to leave the supermarket.

In response, the defence counsel said it was “very damning that the prosecution said what was played in evidence doesn’t represent fully what transpired”.

2 replies on “‘The police were prejudicial’ — police prosecutor  ”

  1. Rawlston Pompey says:

    CONFUSION, PREJUDICE AND DOUBT

    There had to be a reason why the first response officer,’…removed the Virtual Complainants.’
    Such evidence is critical, particularly to show ‘…aggressiveness.’

    Reasonable inferences might be drawn that they were the aggressors. If the defendant was, then most likely, he would have been apprehended to ‘…Prevent a further breach of the Peace.’

    It appears as clear as crystal that they did not wish the Police to meet them at the supermarket.

    From professional experience, the ‘…First Aid Principle,’ is applied; either ‘…Remove the patient from the cause, or the cause from the patient.’

    An officer’s ‘…personal opinion’ of what is or may not be ‘…critical to justice’ shall be of grave concern to any Magistrate.

    This is particularly so, when the evidence to be presented help to guide the Court that has to determine ‘…innocence or guilt.’

    When omitted, whether through ‘…deliberateness; …inadvertence; or technological difficulties,’ every bit of evidence, ‘…physical or documentary or otherwise; favorable or unfavorable to the person or persons on trial shall be presented.’

    In any criminal trial, where the evidence suggests;

    (i) …Confusion;

    (ii) …Prejudice or bias; and

    (iii) …Doubt,’ a Jury properly directed by a Judge or a Magistrate properly directing him/herself
    shall resolve all these in favor of the person or persons on trial.

    Likened to a jury, a Magistrate must also feel sure that the evidence adduced supports the facts of the case or constitute the offence charged.

    Though it appeared that a ‘…No Case Submission,’ was not made, the presiding Magistrate could still look at the principles laid down in the well known Case ‘…Regina v Galbraith’ [1981: 2 AER: 1060] to guide an informed decision.

    Even the Prosecutor’s reported suggestion of a ‘…prejudicial’ investigative approach,’ is sufficient to influence a ‘…Dismissal of the Case.’

    Any ‘…reasonable doubt’ shall be resolved in favor of the defendant.

  2. Rawlston Pompey says:

    BAD MEN RUNNING FROM DANGER

    Whatever it takes, sometimes one has to make men who believed or feel that they are bad, ‘…run like hell.’

    This Case reminds of an experience the Mighty Sparrow said he had encountered when ‘…10 vicious men attacked him at Mira-mar Hotel.’

    He said ‘…Ah hear pod-ow-pow and the the crowd start to scatter’ [Song: Ten to One is Murder; You Tube]. In spite of that scary sound, he was the only person who did not run. Why? He was the gunman.

    Defence attorney Israel Bruce said, ‘…Whatever object he (defendant) picked up, the virtual complainants and others ran in the other direction.’

    Did not attorney Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Marks reportedly had patrons running for cover when he allegedly brandished a gun at Prospect Rum Shop? [IWN: June 27, 2018].

    Second thought, the word ‘…Prejudicial’ in whatever context used, in a criminal trial means ‘…favorable to a party and unfavorable to the other.’

    Clearly intending something else, the prosecutor may just have caused a ‘…self-inflicted wound to her foot.’

    This had given Defence Attorney Israel Bruce an opportunity to capitalize on the prosecutor’s submission that the approach by the investigators was ‘…prejudicial.’

    Sure the Senior Magistrate would remember the recent Case of the two female traffic police officer and the bus driver’ where the evidence was found to be suspect and unreliable.

    Even to suggest to the Court that ‘…there was an issue with the footage that is not complete..’ is enough to create a ‘…reasonable doubt’ in the mind of Senior Magistrate Ricky Burnett.

    Such could weigh heavily in favor of the defendant.

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