Cops shouldn't determine who lives and who dies, says Caroline Haye
With a triple murder conviction and more against his name, Police Constable Collis ‘Chucky’ Brown faces a likely long stretch in prison, in addition to the almost five years he has already been behind bars.
Brown, who was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to murder and one count of wounding with intent, is to be sentenced on December 20.
The unanimous verdict in the high-profile trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston was handed down at about 3:35 p.m. on Thursday after the six-member jury comprising four women and two men had deliberated for roughly four hours.
Reacting to the verdict, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) said the case highlighted “a range of wrongdoings in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF)”.
At the same time, the lead prosecutor in the case, Queen’s Counsel Caroline Haye, said among other things the conviction showed that justice was served and that no one is above the law.
In a statement following Constable Brown’s conviction, INDECOM - whose recorded interviews in which Brown's detailed confessions of his and other cops' involvement in the so-called death squad that murdered criminal suspects sealed his fate - said the commission will continue to investigate allegations of wrongdoings within the JCF.
“INDECOM hopes that the JCF will continue its reform efforts, and we continue to encourage that the police abide by the law whilst enforcing the law, and urge good officers to speak out when they see misconduct,” the statement said.
Speaking with reporters outside the court, defence attorney, Vincent Wellesley set tongues wagging when he expressed anger and disappointment at the guilty verdict.
“They (the jury) have sent a wrong message and signal to the hardworking members of the police force. This verdict will cause the police force to be further demoralised,” the attorney charged.
“I am very disappointed in these Jamaicans who I thought did not like gunmen and criminals."
However, Haye, who has successfully prosecuted several similarly high-profile cases over the years, had a far different perspective on the matter, focusing on the evidence that was presented to the jury rather than on the emotions surrounding Brown’s deeds.
“It is clear that the jury took the time to think about what was presented to them over the last eight weeks. It was a lot of information and the issues were national issues as far as we are concerned. The allegations were very, very serious, so we are satisfied that justice was served,” said Haye.
When asked to respond to the defence team's claim that the wrong message was sent by the jury, she said the prosecution believes that the jury's message was that everyone is entitled to due process.
“When you have an allegation of wrong(doing), the citizen has the same right to due process as the police officer. And I think if I could speak for my team, that's the most important point for us, that there is a thing known as due process of law, and everyone is presumed innocent until found guilty, and the process of proof, as the nation would have seen, can take time,” Haye continued.
According to her, the jury sent a message that the police are not allowed to determine who lives and who dies.