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Judge in 'very rare' move could set accused in Oaklands murder free

Published:Tuesday | August 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM

In what is being described as a "very rare occurrence", a High Court judge has halted businessman Stephen Causewell's defence against murder and instead asked that the Crown address a particular aspect of its case against him.

Justice Carol Lawrence Beswick, one of the most senior Supreme Court judges, will issue a ruling in the matter today.

On July 27, Lawrence Beswick had dismissed a no-case submission made by Causewell's lawyer, Jacqueline Samuels Brown.

She ruled then that Causwell had a case to answer in relation to the death of his ex-girlfriend, Nardia Mitchell, at her the Oaklands apartment in St Andrew on July 16, 2008.

The case moved on with Causwell giving an unsworn statement and calling six witnesses before it took a break on August 4.

But on the weekend before the resumption, the judge wrote to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, asking for written and oral submissions on certain aspects of the Crown's case.

The submissions were heard yesterday in the Home Circuit Court in the absence of the jury.

A senior local lawyer, who wished not to be named, told The Gleaner yesterday that while a judge can intervene at any stage of a trial, it is "very rare" that a judge intervenes after ruling that the accused has a case to answer.

Earlier in the trial that started on July 11, Causewell's lawyer argued that the prosecution had failed to counter the question of self-defence.

She noted that Mitchell's body had 19 injuries, but insisted that there was no evidence that any of them were inflicted by Causewell or caused the woman's death.

The DPP, however, has argued that the case should be determined by the jury.

The Crown is alleging that circumstances support the allegation of murder.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com