Fri | Oct 20, 2017

eleven days for scenes of crime unit

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

A HIGH-RANKING member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has testified that police crime scene investigators were not dispatched to Tivoli Gardens until 11 days after the start of the May 2010 operation in the west Kingston community.

Crime scene investigators are required to forensically process an area where it is believed that a crime occurred and collect potential evidence for use in the future.

However, Inspector Devon Harris, who was assigned to the Police Area 4 Scenes of Crime Unit in 2010, told the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry yesterday that his team did not get a request to enter Tivoli Gardens until June 4 that year.

"We only operate based on request from investigators ... and we didn't get any request until the fourth of June," Harris explained.

Hostilities created risk

In addition, Harris, who was testifying during cross-examination by senior counsel to the commission, Garth McBean, indicated that the hostilities taking place in Tivoli Gardens at the time would have placed investigators at grave risk.

McBean, however, indicated that there was evidence before the commission that by May 25, Tivoli Gardens was fully under the control of the security forces to the extent that a team comprising then Public Defender Earl Witter, Bishop Herro Blair and former president of the Jamaica Red Cross, Dr Jaslin Salmon, was able to visit the area.

"If the area was under the control of the security forces by the evening of the [May] 24th, and that facilitated a tour by the persons I just mentioned, wouldn't that have facilitated the processing of crime scenes?" McBean questioned.

"I don't know," Harris replied.

"If the area was, in fact, under the control of the security forces, wouldn't it have been possible to process the crime scene?" McBean pressed.

"There are other factors you might have to look at. For example, yes, the area might be under the control of the security forces, but the security forces may have to be in a combative mode," he responded.

Heard no gunfire

Witter testified this week that he heard no gunfire in the community while he was there, while Salmon gave evidence on Thursday that he was able talk to residents.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner Winchroy Budhoo, who admitted to making four errors in the witness statement he provided the commission, has sought to explain that the statement was prepared from memory and notations he made.

"I am human. You can make mistakes. And I made mistakes," Budhoo said.

His explanation came in response to questions from attorney for the Office of the Public Defender, Lord Anthony Gifford, about how he came to make "so many errors".

Budhoo's statement was written on June 4, 2010, a little more than a week after the operation aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

However, the Assistant Commissioner testified yesterday that he noticed the errors this year.

Harris is scheduled to continue giving evidence when the hearings resume on Monday.