Sun | Jun 25, 2017

DPP, INDECOM trade blows

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 10:00 AM
WILLIAMS
LLEWELLYN
1
2

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

THE NATION'S chief prosecutor, Paula Llewellyn, yesterday delivered a sharp rebuke to Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) boss Terrence Williams over his decision to report her office to the Parliament for its handling of the contentious 'Kentucky Kid' murder case.

Llewellyn, who is the director of public prosecutions (DPP), blasted Williams as being "ignorant of the facts", as she defended her office's handling of the case.

"The Office of the DPP cannot manufacture or fabricate evidence in order to assuage public sympathies or public prejudices. That would be intellectual dishonesty of the highest order," she told The Gleaner.

Kentucky Kid, whose real name is Robert Hill, was an aspiring entertainer who had made numerous complaints of police harassment before he was shot and killed near his Ivy Green Mews home in St Andrew in 2008, by police personnel, who reported that he was killed in a shootout and that an illegal firearm was recovered.

Two policemen were arrested and charged for assaulting Hill, but were later freed.

In July this year, a coroner's jury ruled that murder charges be laid against three other policemen and two civilians for their roles in Hill's death. They were, however, freed in the Home Circuit Court this month, after prosecutors decided not to offer any evidence against them and the jury was directed to return a formal verdict of not guilty.

The DPP's office, in a statement explaining its action, insisted that prosecutors would have a tough task of proving the case, especially since they could not undermine the legal principle of self-defence that was raised by the policemen and "there was no witness as to the facts" of the case.

The DPP also argued at the time, the available forensic evidence supported the policemen's account of the killing.

"When we sought to go through all of the depositions [from the coroner's inquest] and all of the statements, we found that there were no witnesses outside of the three police officers and the cousin [of Hill] that could be called. You cannot call an accused person to give evidence against himself," she sought to explain.

'UNJUSTIFIED USE OF FORCE'

However, INDECOM, in its report tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, concluded that all the evidence available showed that Hill was killed by "unjustified use of force by agents of the state" and charged that "there was no effective prosecution".

"The commission is of the view that eyewitness evidence is not superior to other evidence. It is open to a jury to reject this evidence by relying on circumstantial evidence and direct evidence," INDECOM argued.

The oversight body also took issue with the way the case was disposed of, arguing that the decision to enter a not guilty verdict meant "the former defendants will enjoy a bar to future proceedings (prosecution) without adjudication on evidence."

Suggesting prosecutors could have entered a nolle prosequi that would have adjourned the case indefinitely, INDECOM complained: "The procedure adopted prevents any reversal of the DPP's decision, rendering accountability of that office illusory."

Llewellyn underscored that the DPP's office was a creature of the Constitution and not the Parliament, and declined to comment on whether she thought INDECOM's action was an attempt to embarrass her office.

She, however, described the timing as "curious" because the report was sent to Parliament the same day she sent Williams a strongly worded letter about "an unfortunate incident", involving a junior attorney for INDECOM that occurred in the Circuit Court earlier this month in the Mickey Hill murder case.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com