The trial of the three men accused of the 2017 murder of two brothers — their father’s only children — could take place during the next assizes, which begins on Sept. 21.
Schemel “Jacket” Dunbar, 34, and Kendeen “Hoodie” Douglas, 36, of Rillan Hill, as well as Richard “Carib” Francis, 37, of Layou, are charged with murder in connection with the May 4, 2017 death of Police Constable Danroy Cozier, 26, of Mesopotamia, and his younger brother, Nicholas Cozier, 19, of Richmond Hill.
An autopsy concluded that they died of gunshot injuries.
Dunbar, Douglas and Francis have been in prison since being charged in May 2017.
The matter came up for case management on July 14, 2022, as the last assizes were ending.
Director of Public Prosecution, Sejilla McDowall appeared for the Crown, with counsel Carl Williams representing Dunbar, and Ronald Marks, Francis’ lawyer, also holding for Grant Connell, who represents Douglas.
Mc Dowall told the court that the witness list is relatively long and the position of the Crown was to request a fixture in the next assizes for case management.
She said the Crown would be seeking to have some formal admission of evidence and would be writing to counsel regarding this and would complete case management in preparation for trial.
Mc Dowall said there are several other matters that might be given priority but that the prosecution would strive to have the matter in the next assizes.
The judge, Justice Brian Cottle, told the DPP that there has been correspondence “from people who used to sit at criminal bar suggesting that citizens are being disadvantaged by the length of time it is taking to get to trial.
“With those observations in mind, we really need to do what we can, both from the prosecution, defence and the bench, to move matters along as quickly as possible while not sacrificing the ends of justice,” Justice Cottle said.
The DPP told the court that she was directly involved with all the counsel and had urged that application be made regarding whatever request might exist.
She said that the Crown had disclosed what traditionally is disclosed and over the summer vacation of the court, the prosecution would review the matter for whatever preparation is necessary.
Williams said he was ready to proceed to trial.
For his part, Marks echoed the concerns raised regarding the observation.
“This matter is 2017; we are now in 2022. We have some 40 statements listed on the deposition.”
He said that whereas there were only three defendants as compared to five in another unrelated matter completed during that assizes, he was of the view that the matter would “take some management”.
The lawyer said he was sure that he spoke on behalf of Williams and Connell in saying the defence was willing to cooperate with the DPP “as much as possible so that we can shorten the matter, get some evidence in by way of formal admission and hopefully we can get this matter finished in early in the next assizes”.
The judge said he was ready to deal with the matter as soon as he could, adding that the accused men are entitled to their day in court.
“But there are other citizens who also require trials — their day in court. What we have to do, therefore, is to maximise the use of available judicial resources, court resources that we have to speed up these trials as best as we can.”
Justice Cottle said there was no getting round that the last term was not efficient.
He said there were matters that lasted four weeks, “which, in all good conscience, should not have gone beyond two weeks.
“Sometimes, that’s just the way things are,” the judge said, adding that when this happens there is a knock-on effect in that other matters can’t be heard.
The judge then explained the situation to the defendant and told them that their trial could take place in the upcoming session.
“We understand that these matters are taking longer than they usually,” the judge said, adding that there has been the COVID-19 pandemic and the eruption of La Soufriere volcano.
“The past two years have not been kind,” he said, adding that that has not helped, in addition to the volume of matters before the court.
“We will do the best that we can,” he said.
In addition to the death of the brothers, Dunbar is also charged with murder in connection with the death of Malcolm Pollin, of Vermont, who was shot and killed in the South Leeward village on March 12, 2017.
This is the fifth murder charge to have been brought against Dunbar, who saw the two others fall away at the preliminary inquiry stage as key witnesses failed to attend the proceedings.