Wed | May 27, 2020

Shawn Storm feels justice system ‘pressured’ - Attorney going to Privy Council

Published:Saturday | April 4, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Top: Entertainer Vybz Kartel (left) and Shawn Storm leave the Home Circuit Court, where they were sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday, April 3, 2014.
Prominent attorney-at-law Bert Samuels (second left), who represents one of Kartel’s co-accused, Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, accepts the conference call for the judgement in the Vybz Kartel appeal yesterday. Looking on are (from left) Isat Buchanan, Daynia Allen and Bianca Samuels.
Vybz Kartel (left) and Shawn Storm of the Portmore Empire, at Sting some years ago.

When the judgment was read out at minutes to 10 on Friday morning via electronic link, Bianca Samuels, one of the lawyers for Sean Campbell, let out a barely audible gasp, questioning what she had just heard, “Dismissed?”

Samuels, her father Bert, Isat Buchanan, and Daynia Allen comprise the legal team for Campbell, who, along with Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John, is serving a mandatory life sentence for the August 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. All four men appealed their sentences and convictions in July 2018 and have been awaiting an outcome since. The look of disappointment etched on their faces said it all. Bert Samuels, however, still vocalised it. “We are very disappointed,” he said, seeming to let it sink in that the appeal had been thrown out.

But he has vowed to put his contingency plan in place and, as directed by his client in previous discussions, take the matter to the Privy Council in London.

Samuels told the media, gathered at a location in St Andrew Friday morning, that his client, a dancehall artiste who goes by the moniker Shawn Storm, feels that the justice system in Jamaica has come under pressure because of who he is.

“Mr Campbell expressed to me that there is certain perception of a pressure that is on the justice system in Jamaica because they don’t feel that there is any, as it were, freedom to think freely because of who are involved in the appeal,” Bert Samuels stated. “And we don’t think that the Privy Council comes under any such pressure when we take matters to them.”

He added: “Persons who have had an interest in this case have told me that they think that public pressure would have factored in this case. We have an independent judiciary, so we don’t expect that kind of pressure to go to them, but speaking on behalf of the client, he feels that this pressure is out there.”

Regarding the timeline for the mounting of the new appeal to the Privy Council, Samuels is looking to no later than next year. “Definitely, towards the end of 2020, but the COVID-19 is an issue which makes so many things unpredictable, but definitely, we will be arguing latest 2021. Now, these men have been in custody since 2011, so they are prepared to wait.”

He explained that they would have to seek permission from the court in Jamaica in order to take the case overseas but that if, for some reason, permission is not granted, they can approach the Privy Council directly. The financial cost of such an appeal would involve travel to London by the attorneys; however, in this electronic age, things can be done a bit differently.

“The Privy Council has now provided for us to have live-streaming by the attorneys in Jamaica, and we can do it by video link to the Privy Council. It has substantially reduced the cost of appearing in the Privy Council. So we may be opting to have a live-streaming of this appeal to the Privy Council, where we will be at a location in Jamaica, and we are addressing the Privy Council,” Samuels said.