Lawyer says death of a witness will affect defence case

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — A defence lawyer representing one of three police personnel charged by the Independent Commission of Investigations in relation to the death of St James resident Mario Deane in 2014 says the murder of a witness will negatively impact the defence's case.

Twenty-four-year-old Fahdeal Ferguson of Spring Mount in St James was one of two men shot dead by gunmen in a motor car on Friday last week around 8:00 pm.

Police report that Ferguson was among a group of five persons standing at a stall in John's Hall when a car pulled up and men wearing unmarked ballistic vests alighted from the vehicle and opened fire.

When contacted, attorney Martyn Thomas told the Jamaica Observer that if the case moves on to the Circuit Court in a few days' time, Ferguson's death is likely to affect the defence's case.

“It would not impact the case significantly for the prosecution, who have a copy of his statements that can be put into evidence and read to a jury, or if it gets there by virtue of the Evidence Amendment Act,” Thomas said.

“It would affect the defence though, because, of course, he would be no longer available for cross-examination.”

Added Thomas: “There are serious issues arising out of his statements that the defence would really wish to ask him about [but] because he is not here, it would pose a challenge.”

He said that if the prosecution takes advantage of the Evidence Amendment Act, the statement would just be read into evidence and taken at face value.

“No questions can be asked about it,” said Thomas.

The three police personnel implicated in Deane's death are Corporal Elaine Stewart, 50 years old; District Constable Marlon Grant, 27 years old ;and 32-year-old District Constable Juliana Clevon.

All three have been charged with manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, and misconduct in a public office. They are currently out on $400,000 bail.

Deane was taken into custody at the Barnett Street Police Station for possession of a ganja spliff on Sunday, August 3, 2014.

However, he died three days later in hospital after receiving severe injuries to the head while in custody.

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