Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Brian-Paul Welsh | Mais, X6 and justice

Published:Monday | October 24, 2016 | 10:00 AM

The lord, on his high bench, pronounced last week that the family of a slain schoolboy should desist from waking the town and telling the people of the indignities they have suffered along the circuitous quest for justice in the death of their child.

This cold case, long decided in the court of public opinion, is now rapidly disintegrating under stage lights in yet another magical illusion for the nightly news.

His Worship issued a decree making it improper for the peasants to engage in idle prattle about this matter of grave concern while it is sub judice, albeit half a decade later.

To lowly ears, such lofty pronouncements rang hollow, for even those falsely considered omnipotent should know better than attempt to stop the murmurs of disquiet peasants lest those whispers turn inflammatory.

The lord's fanciful order immediately incensed members of the articulate minority regarding themselves as Jamaica's intelligentsia, representatives of which are up to this very moment virtually engaged in all manner of irreverent behaviour in response to His Worship's contempt for their favourite mode of socialising.

Is the public conscience within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty's court? Can the courts police the uptown verandah better than their forces police downtown streets?

Since the bizarre incident at the centre of this controversy took place several years ago, it has been the talk of the town.

When Mr Power (as The Gleaner referred to him in a Freudian editorial slip this week) allegedly discharged a firearm at a passenger vehicle after it allegedly hit his hot wheels on a dark suburban street, it immediately evoked the genetic memory of the way our ancestors were habitually killed and dismembered for causing damage to master's fragile ego.

High drama unfolded in the weeks following the child's untimely death, as the media scrambled to find information to feed the public's burning desire to know exactly what took place that night in the nice neighbourhood, and if the nice man really killed the nice boy because of damage to his nice car.

In the eyes of the public, it was peculiar that 'the suspect' was able to avoid being named and shamed as a 'person of interest' when ordinary people are terrorised in the media for lesser infractions.

 

PATIENCE LOST

 

Even Jamaicans For Justice, which, by then, had seen it all and expressly lost all patience for soliloquies, issued a statement questioning the manner in which this particular case was being handled, saying:

"The refusal to name the person while at the same time leaking all other kinds of information is inexplicable. Indeed, persons have been not only named but also incarcerated for weeks on the basis of far less information than is in the public domain in this case."

If even those typically accused of hugging up gunmen could get so fed up with what seemed like the mischievous machinations of those friendly to 'the suspect', clearly something was amiss.

For weeks leading up to his eventual arrest, the newspapers gossiped about the political affiliations, business ties and enormous wealth of 'the suspect', conjuring a vivid narrative of a powerful individual, a society 'smaddy'.

That perception remained after the suspect landed at the Norman Manley International Airport late one night after a supposed nationwide manhunt, was placed in a service vehicle, and taken into police custody.

'The suspect' retained counsel from the future attorney general of Jamaica and was later charged with shooting with intent, illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and failure to produce firearm for inspection.

On November 8, 2012, a forensic report in the murder case describes finding gunpowder residue at trace levels on the back of the right hand of the deceased. Defence attorney Patrick Atkinson reasons that the gunpowder residue meant the deceased child had fired a gun. The following day, 'the suspect' was granted bail in the sum of J$10 million.

On October 20, 2016, the Jamaica Observer, in a report from the trial of 'the suspect', said: "Police Superintendent Clive Walker today testified that Patrick Powell had refused to hand over his licensed firearm for testing when he was taken into custody. Walker said that to date, Powell has not handed over his firearm, a Glock 9mm pistol, for testing."

The message in the optics and that influences the public's perception is that in Jamaica, impunity is the mark of the privileged.

Many believe someone set duppy on this case because the spectre of corruption can almost be plainly seen doing its usual mischief, but the word of the lord is that the peasants should see an' blind and hear an' deaf. Thy will be done.

- Brian-Paul Welsh is a writer and public affairs commentator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and brianpaul.welsh@gmail.com, or tweet @islandcynic.