Friday 24 January, 2020

Retrial ordered for brothers on convictions of chopping co-worker

Two St Catherine brothers who, in 2015, were ordered to serve between 15 and 20 years' imprisonment for chopping and robbing their co-worker in Dover Castle in the parish seven years ago, have won an appeal against their conviction.

Calvin and Lorringston Walker were found guilty by a jury in the St Catherine Circuit Court of the offences of burglary, larceny and wounding with intent on June 15, 20l5.

In the interest of justice, the Court of Appeal has indicated, "a new trial is ordered to take place in the shortest possible time", and the initial convictions "are quashed and the sentences set aside".

The Appeal Court agreed that the failure of the defence to lead evidence before the jury of the brothers' good character, deprived them of a fair trial.

According to the written judgement prepared by Appeal Court Judge, Justice Jennifer Straw, the brothers worked on a farm in Dover Castle with the complainant, and he had been working there for approximately 11 months. He knew Calvin as ‘Tutu Walker’ and Lorringston as ‘Larry Walker’. The complainant and Lorringston both resided in separate living quarters in a dwelling house on the farm, while Calvin resided elsewhere.

Further reports are that on January 23, 2012, at about 7:30 p.m., the complainant was in his living quarters when he saw his door being “shub off”. Lorringston reportedly entered first and Calvin followed. Both men had handkerchiefs tied around their mouths beneath their noses. They had nothing else on their heads, and they were each armed with a machete.

During the incident, the complainant was chopped and stabbed several times to his body, including his groin area, hands and neck. His mobile phone was also stolen, allegedly by the brothers.

The wounded complainant managed to escape into nearby bushes and after waiting for some time, he laid down on a roadway at about 10:00 p.m.

Sometime later, a van was driven towards him, and he was assisted into the van. Both Calvin and Lorringston were in the van, and they went for a sheet to help the complainant, who was bleeding.

The complainant was then transported to the hospital with the brothers in the van, and they made enquires of the complainant to the effect, “A who do dis?” At the time, the complainant was unable to speak.

He was taken to the Linstead Hospital and later transferred to the Kingston Public Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.

Weeks later, the complainant gave a statement to the police and the brothers were arrested. The investigating officer informed them that it was his intention to have them participate in an identification parade, but the exercise was not held, as the attorney-at-law for the accused men declined to have either of them participate in the parade.

On April 2, 2012, Calvin and Lorringston Walker were both charged.

At the trial, both brothers gave evidence on oath, denying that they attacked the complainant. They both had alibis.

Calvin called a witness - his sister - who said he was with her at the time of the attack. She gave evidence that around 10:30 to 11:00 p.m., Calvin was at her home along with a number of other family members, when Lorringston came to the house informing them that, “Dem jus cut ‘Chung’ (the complainant) throat dung di road”. In response, she said they went to assist the complainant by travelling in a van to the scene.

Lorringston called two witnesses to account for his whereabouts. The witnesses were the van driver and another resident of the Dover Castle community.

The van driver gave evidence that he heard some news from his baby mother that there was someone bleeding on the road, and that the person resembled Lorringston’s co-worker.

He then went to ask Lorringston where the complainant was, and to inform him of what he heard.

The witness said Lorringston asked him to take him to the spot.

The witness did not state what time the discussion took place, but the inference was that it would have been sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., as that would have been the time he received information that someone was bleeding on the road.

The brothers were subsequently convicted by the jury.

They later filed several grounds of appeal through their attorneys, Nancy Anderson (who represented Calvin Walker) and Gillian Burgess (who represented Lorringston Walker).

Chief among them was "the failure of defence counsel (at the trial) to lead evidence of the applicants’ good character during the trial before the jury, deprived them of the opportunity to present their full defence, in particular, as it relates to propensity to commit the offence, and credibility, which resulted in an unfair trial."

It was on this point that the Appeal Court agreed that this ground of appeal had merit, and pointed out that "counsel at the trial may have failed to discharge her duty to raise the issue of good character."

The court also noted that "both applicants (the brothers) denied that they were involved, and called evidence in support of their defence of alibi.

There was no other evidence put forward by the Crown to implicate them, and no motive was established.

”On that basis alone, the good character in relation to credibility and propensity would have been of great significance," the Appeal Court stated.

The court further concluded that "a good character direction would have its highest value. Therefore, this court is not sufficiently confident of the safety of the verdict to be able to discount the significance that a good character direction may have had on the verdict of the jurors."

A retrial of the case was subsequently ordered for the brothers, who had no prior conviction against their names.

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