'Victorious day' for Kartel, co-accused after Court of Appeal ruling
Entertainer Vybz Kartel and his three co-accused won a major victory Monday afternoon as the Court of Appeal ruled that fresh evidence will be admitted in the appeal hearing which began earlier in the day.
"It was a victorious day for all four appellants, the fresh evidence which was allowed today represents a great blow by the appellants against this conviction," a buoyant Bert Samuels told Loop Jamaica reporter Claude Mills.
Samuels represents Shawn Campbell, who is better known as recording artiste, ‘Shawn Storm’.
"The statement of the sole eyewitness that he arrived at Swallowfield at 8 pm, in a statement to the police eight days after the incident, collides with his sworn testimony that he arrived between 5 and 5:30 pm, and that the beatings commenced soon after," Samuels said.
"That means that by the time Shawn Campbell arrived at 8, he would have been excluded from participation in the beatings because by the reasoning of the prosecution, at this time, Clive Williams would have been dead," the prominent attorney added.
Williams was allegedly beaten to death in August 2011 at a house in Havendale, St Andrew. His body has not been found. Police experts had said at the trial that records from the mobile phone showed that the deceased, Williams, and accused, Campbell, were in St Catherine at 7.30 pm and not at Swallowfield between 5 pm to 5.30 pm on the day of the murder.
Samuels also argued that his client, Campbell had been denied the right of hearing and right to be present when material evidence was being presented against him. He was making reference to the allegations of bribery and jury-tampering that emerged at the end of the trial.
In relation to the jury foreman accusing a member of the jury of trying to bribe colleagues during the trial to return not guilty verdicts, the Court of Appeal ruled that Campbell’s affidavit showing he was excluded from chambers when the foreman made the allegations must be presented as fresh evidence, as Campbell had a constitutional right to be present.
"He (Campbell) was not invited into chambers by the judge to deal with the incident of bribery, and he was also excluded when the judge was dealing with the exclusion of a female juror who felt uncomfortable after she visited Horizon and claimed that she saw her son in the company of the appellants. Campbell was not allowed to participate in the discussion in chambers, none of the appellants were allowed," Samuels said.
The Court of Appeal also ruled that statements made by jurors in relation to the bribery trial must be admitted as fresh evidence. What compounds the situation is that it appears that the judge knew about the bribery attempt of the juror weeks before the end of trial.
"The judge elected to use expedience over justice," Samuels said.
Queen’s counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson and Samuels had applied for witness statements to form part of the appeal hearing to show that what the witnesses said in their statements to the police had differed from the evidence produced at the trial in the Home Circuit Court.
According to Samuels, Neita-Robertson argued that contaminated cellphone evidence was allowed at the trial, along with what was viewed as prejudicial video evidence that was also allowed.
"The tape of the bribery attempt was played in the jury room, and once that happened, the jury was not an impartial tribunal anymore," Samuels said.
Samuels theorised that the Court of Appeal hearing, initially expected to last three weeks, could be over in one week.
"The fulsome submissions which were made by the defence meant that the defence need not be on their feet too long and that was the reason for the adjournment until next week Monday. So next week, each appellant will have one day in court, the DPP will have one, and it will be over in one week," he said.
Samuels praised his legal team, comprising Bianca Samuels, Daynia Allen and Isat Buchanan for their tireless work in compiling "fulsome written submissions which amounted to 140 pages".
"The DPP has responded with just one and a half pages," Samuels reasoned in a thinly-veiled slight of Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn.
Monday's "fresh evidence" was not part of the original trial in which Vybz Kartel, Shawn "Shawn Storm" Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John were convicted in March 2014 for the murder of Clive "Lizard" Williams.
The appeal is being heard by the president of the Court of Appeal Dennis Morrison, Justice Patrick Brooks and Justice Frank Williams.
The court will start hearing arguments in the appeal next Monday.