Police must prepare cases well to secure convictions, says DPP
Jamaica's chief prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, has argued that the number of successful convictions before the island's courts will depend on how well police investigators prepare their cases.
In making reference to the recent guilty pleas entered before the Home Circuit Court by three defendants, including a female, in the abduction and murder of a businessman and a University of Technology (UTech) graduate in 2013, Llewellyn said the thorough investigation conducted by the police in that case led to the subsequent convictions.
"Good things are happening in the justice system, and I would like you to know that unless the police do their job in terms of properly preparing their cases, then you are not going to be able to get a guilty verdict or a conviction, because the attorney will have his instructions from his client, will look at what the prosecution has, because we have to disclose the papers to them, and they will say, 'no man, let me take my chance with this particular case," Llewellyn outlined.
She again noted that in the prominent case of abduction and murder in East Kirkland Heights, St Andrew, the investigation by the police was outstanding.
In that case that drew both local and international attention, 27-year-old businessman, Curtis Martin, and 25-year-old university graduate, Mario Daley, were robbed and then abducted at gunpoint on October 21, 2013 at their East Kirkland Heights home in St Andrew. They have not been seen or heard from since.
Three weeks after the abduction and robbery, three persons - Damian Lawrence, Dionne Mitchell and Evon Simmonds - were arrested on gun and robbery charges in relation to the disappearance of the men.
Llewellyn, who was speaking at a Rotary Club of Kingston meeting earlier this week, explained that the three were convicted on robbery charges prior to being charged with murder.
"These two men (Curtis Martin and Mario Daley) were abducted from East Kirkland Heights. One was a businessman (and) one was a UTech graduate. Certain items were taken (from their house). The female accused gave a caution statement and outlined how everything went, but she still did not talk about the murder, just that things were taken," Llewelyn revealed.
But after securing convictions on the robbery aspect of the case, Llewellyn said she instructed the investigating officer, whom she lauded for his work, to continue his probe into what happened to the missing men.
"The men (Curtis Martin and Mario Daley) were abducted and taken elsewhere, and the police - I am going to call his name - investigating officer from Constant Spring, Detective Corporal Adrian Lewis, prepared an excellent case," she outlined.
The top prosecutor continued: "After we got the conviction of three of them for illegal possession of firearm and robbery, (noting that a relative of the abducted men) who lived with the two men, (witnessed the incident), I said to the police, 'continue to proceed to finish the investigation, get a statement from A, B, C, and we are also going to prosecute them (Lawrence, Mitchell and Simmonds) for murder."
According to Llewellyn, the plan was for circumstantial evidence to be used to prove that Martin and Daley were murdered.
"... PICA (the Passport, Immigration and Citizen Agency) says that they didn't leave the island, all (their) relatives are saying that they normally call every day, and the last person to see them alive was in a situation of hostility, at gunpoint when they were abducted," she indicated.
The experienced prosecutor purported that if the police had not done "excellent investigation", the defendants would not have eventually decided to plead guilty to two counts of murder.
"The murder matter came up (in court) last week, and low and behold, they (Lawrence, Mitchell and Simmonds) pleaded guilty, and up until now we have not had two bodies. So if the police had not done excellent investigation, then it wouldn't have been able to force the hands of the accused (men and woman to plead guilty)... So we have that situation (now) closed," Llewellyn outlined.
Meanwhile, Lawrence, Mitchell and Simmonds are to be sentenced on Friday, May 24.