Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Judge decries alleged attempts to belittle justice system

Published:Thursday | October 13, 2016 | 10:28 AM

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

A High Court judge has reacted to reports from a top criminal defence attorney that persons have used the so-called X6 murder case to suggest that the nation's judicial system is corrupt, saying he finds the claims disturbing.

According to Justice Lloyd Hibbert, Jamaica's jurisprudence is well respected throughout the Commonwealth.

"We are sinking to a new low when people try to denigrate the justice system," the respected jurist cautioned.

"People will resort to lawlessness when persons seek to belittle the system," Hibbert continued.

The warning came in the Home Circuit Court where the long-delayed murder trial of businessman Patrick Powell was expected to start yesterday. It has, however, been re-scheduled to Tuesday to allow attorney, Patrick Atkinson to rejoin the case.

Powell, who resides in the upscale Belgrade Loop area, was arrested and charged in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old Kingston College student Khajeel Mais, in Havendale, St Andrew in July 2011.

Before yesterday's adjournment, one of Powell's attorneys, Deborah Martin complained that relatives of the slain schoolboy had taken to social media to make disparaging comments about the case and the judicial system.

Martin read from a number of messages which she told the court were posted on Facebook and Instagram. According to her, the messages suggested that Powell was guilty and that the trial was being delayed because of corruption.

"There has been an extensive tirade on social media, commenting on the case and suggesting that Mr Powell is guilty," she asserted. She complained that the messages could influence persons who may be selected to serve as jurors and impact her client's chances of getting a fair trial.

"We don't know who read social media," Martin underscored.

After listening to her submissions, Justice Hibbert ordered the removal of all materials posted on social media about the case.

He also instructed that no further materials be posted on any social media platform about the case.

"Anything done to improperly influence a tribunal is tantamount to contempt of court," Hibbert warned.

"A trial must be fair to everybody, the accuser and the accused," he stressed.

Mais was travelling in a taxi that reportedly collided with a BMW X6.

According to reports, the driver of the luxury vehicle came out and fired one bullet into the taxi then fled the scene.

Mais who was heading to a school event in the taxi was hit and later died at hospital.