Thursday 21 February, 2019

Manchester man freed of allegedly burning his cousin to death

The inability of the prosecution and the police to verify the signature on a statement, and the lack of any eyewitness, were among the reasons why the Manchester man who was accused of killing his cousin by setting him ablaze three years ago.

Thirty-one-year-old Nicholas Johnson appeared in the Manchester Parish Court on Friday.

Trial judge, Dave Staple, ruled that there was insufficient evidence for him to commit Johnson to stand trial for the death of Miguel Campbell.

Prosecutors had outlined that on January 8, 2015, the two cousins were involved in a dispute in Clarks Town, Manchester. During the fuss, Johnson reportedly doused Campbell with gasoline before setting him ablaze. Campbell died in hospital five months later.

However, the crown’s case ran into problems, as there was no eyewitness to the incident, a fact that was exploited by the defence, whose lead attorney, Shauna-Gay Mitchell, challenged the statement that was reportedly given by Campbell while he was hospitalised, and also the signatures that were on the statement.

Prosecutors at the committal hearing were unable to provide a handwriting expert to verify whether Campbell had signed the document before he died.

In dismissing the matter, Judge Staple stated that in the absence of the handwriting evidence, he had no other choice than to throw out the case.

However, the judge instructed that the case file be referred to the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Division and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for an investigation to be conducted.

He said the two agencies should seek to determine why there were different signatures on the statement that was supposedly given by Campbell.

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