Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Inaction against lying cops hurting JCF - lawyer

Published:Monday | October 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
Peter Champagnie

Prominent attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie has expressed concern that no action is being taken against cops who manufacture evidence against accused persons to secure convictions.

Champagnie made his comments last Friday following the acquittal of an accused in a case where the policeman who had reportedly lied in a case in the Gun Court in 2014 was the investigating officer.

"I am deeply concerned that whenever glaring evidence is unearthed in court that some police officers have lied or manufactured cases against accused persons, these officers continue in the force without facing disciplinary action," said Champagnie.

"This kind of situation undermines the efforts of the majority of other police officers who are true to their cause and reinforces the public's misperception that the force is corrupt," added Champagnie.


Lying cop, contradicting evidence


The policeman's past came up when 23-year-old Sheldon Heywood, painter, of Spanish Town, St Catherine, faced trial for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

It was alleged that on May 2, 2014, during a search by the police of a group of men in the Bow Tie community in Spanish Town, Heywood was found with an illegal firearm with one round of ammunition.

Two policemen testified at the trial in the Gun Court and one said he removed the firearm from Heywood's waistband, while the other said he observed the firearm being removed.

But during cross-examination, Champagnie, who was representing Heywood, suggested to the policeman who was the observer that in the past, he had given false evidence against another man in the Gun Court.

When he denied the suggestion, Champagnie produced a Gleaner article of September 2014 to support his claim that the policeman had fabricated a story that he had taken a magazine with ammunition from the trouser pocket of David Clarke, of Riverton City, St Andrew.

Champagnie also suggested to the cop that the newspaper report had alluded to the fact that a member of the Jamaica Defence Force had testified that the magazine was found in bushes, thereby contradicting his evidence.

Champagnie then produced newspaper articles that Clarke, on being acquitted, had sued the State for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment and was awarded

$6 million.

The policeman said he had read the articles but maintained that his account in Clarke's case was the truth. He denied Champagnie's suggestion that he was an habitual prevaricator when it came to giving evidence in court.

The other cop said he did not consult with anyone before writing his statement and was adamant that the gun was taken from Heywood.

Champagnie made a no-case submission and argued that his client should be freed.

Justice Lorna Shelly Williams upheld the no-case submission and remarked that the attendant history of the cop would have impacted on his credibility.

The judge said further that she found it remarkable that although one of the policemen said he did not consult with the other, the statements were identical in every respect.