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Defence questions witness's character in cops' murder trial

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 09, 2012    

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THE defence yesterday continued its effort to discredit the prosecution's main witness in the murder trial of three policemen, describing him as a "rogue cop", and raising questions of gun-running and gang involvement on his part.

Suggestions were also made that he knew the two men for whose deaths Assistant Superintendent Victor Barrett, Corporal Louis Lynch and Constable Paul Edwards are being tried in the Home Circuit Court.

During the searing cross-examination by attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson (Lynch's attorney), the witness — a former police officer at the Gang Intelligence Unit — was also painted as a man who became disgruntled after he was not promoted to the rank of sergeant or appointed a detective, despite having passed the respective exams.

In her no-holds-barred examination, Neita-Robertson also embarked upon a course that, in a subtle way, raised questions about the witness' sexuality, sparking laughter and whispers among the 12 jurors.

The attorney suggested to the witness that the issue of confidentiality was one of the reasons he was not promoted. He, however, denied this, leading to the suggestion that he always had civilians with him when he was supposed to have been working.

"That's not true," the witness responded.

"Isn't it true that you carried young men to the office who were not police officers?" the attorney asked.

"They would visit me; and women too," the witness replied.

"Which women?" Neita-Robertson shot back in a mocking tone. "Name one of them."

Said the attorney: "I'm suggesting that you were spoken to about bringing young men to the office, even up to the AM."

"I was never spoken to by anyone," said the witness, who went on to explain that on one occasion a "young man" visited him during the night.

Barrett, Lynch and Edwards have been on trial since last week Tuesday for the murders of Kemar Walters and Oliver Duncan, who were abducted from the Washington Plaza, along Washington Boulevard, St Andrew on December 23, 2004.

The prosecution is contending that there was a common plot by Lynch and Edwards to murder the men and that Barrett covered up the crime.

The witness testified on a previous occasion that Edwards told him that he killed Duncan and that Walters was killed by another police officer. The witness said that the men's Honda CRV was burnt at an abandoned premises along the Port Royal main road.

He said Barrett told him to never mention the incident to anyone and dictated a false statement regarding his (the witness') whereabouts on December 23, 2004.

But during cross-examination that started with Deborah Martin (Edwards' attorney) three days ago, suggestions were made that the witness had lied to protect himself from criminal charges and also in order to prevent his prosecution over an AK47. The witness had denied the suggestions.

Yesterday, Neita-Robertson started her second day examining the witness shortly after Justice Horace Marsh ruled, out of national security concerns, that she could not put certain questions to the man.

She wasted no time in her onslaught, suggesting that the witness was good at making up stories.

The witness, however, denied the suggestion.

The attorney also suggested that the witness, from his time living in Spanish Town, knew Walters and Duncan, who it had been hinted at were car thieves. The witness, however, denied knowing the men or any of their friends as suggested.

Evidence was given by a police witness that the chassis number on the CRV that was in Walters' and Duncan's possession when they were apprehended on December 23, 2004 had been tampered with.

At another point yesterday, Neita-Robertson suggested that the witness was known by the alias Noah "by the criminal elements that" he "mix with and work with".

"I don't work with or mix with criminal elements," the witness said.

The witness left the constabulary in 2008 and yesterday admitted to keeping an unmarked police vehicle for six months after his resignation.

"That was wrong of me, but I never murdered anyone," he said when the lawyer questioned him about this.

"We coming to that," Neita-Robertson responded.

During another exchange, the attorney suggested that the witness was not promoted because he was a "rogue cop". He denied the suggestion, but the lawyer countered that he was under surveillance for gun-running.

"I was never involved in gun-running," he said.

"You were found with an AK47 in your vehicle," Neita-Robertson said.

"That is absolutely false," he said.

A new witness is to take the stand today, as the defence prepares, from recently disclosed documents, to continue cross-examining this current witness on Monday.

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