Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Immediate trial ordered for Ninja Man

Published:Tuesday | October 17, 2017 | 2:25 PMLivern Barrett
Ninja Man

A High Court judge today ordered that the murder trial of popular entertainer Ninja Man commence immediately.

The order by Justice Martin Gayle followed an application by the entertainer’s attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson for a stay of proceedings in the eight-year-old case for abuse of process. There have been 17 trial dates and 23 mention dates in the case.

Jury selection was set to begin at 2 o’clock.

Ninja Man, whose given name is Desmond Ballentyne, was arrested and placed before the court in 2009 along with his son Janeil and another man, Dennis Clayton, for the fatal shooting of Ricardo Johnson that same year.

However, in her application for the case to be stopped, Neita-Robertson said in the eight years since Ninja Man’s first court appearance, one prosecution witness has died and two alibi witnesses for the entertainer have migrated and cannot be located.

She said, too, that she has been informed that one prosecution witness has left the witness protection programme and cannot be located while another has been "apprehended in another jurisdiction".

"The delay has created a situation that is prejudicial to the accused persons, hence the accused will be deprived of being able to put forward their defence in a coherent manner,” Neita-Robertson argued.

"The circumstances that exist today would not afford the accused to have a fair trial," she continued.

However, lead prosecutor Kathy Pyke, in her response, said the attorneys for the three accused have "not established, on a balance of probability, that their clients will be prejudiced".

Pyke said the issues raised by the defence can be addressed during the trial.