Fri | Feb 21, 2020

King Valley Gang Trial| Chief Justice raps defence for confusing witness

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 10:17 AM
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Danae Hyman, Gleaner Writer

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, who is hearing the King Valley Gang trial, blasted a defence attorney on Tuesday for what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to confuse the crown’s star witness.

Everton Bird, who is representing Hopeland 'Bigga' Sankey and Copeland 'Tupac' Sankey, often interchanged between his clients’ given names and their alias when cross-examining the witness.

Initially stating that he was starting off his questioning on behalf of Hopeton Sankey, Bird began referencing 'Tupac', his brother, in his remarks.

“I would like to suggest that the person you called Tupac, you did not have good relations with him,” Bird said.

The witness disagreed with the suggestion but later sought clarification when the defence attorney continued to use the accused men’s birth names along with their aliases interchangeably.

“No, you don’t ask questions, I ask questions,” Bird fired.

“But you are confusing me,” the witness, who is testifying via video link, shot back.

Sykes, seemingly annoyed, interjected and told the attorney to desist from using names that he knows the witness does not understand.

“Why are you using names the witness did not use? The witness has used a particular set of names to refer to the persons and you know what they are,” Sykes said.

Bird, in a confused tone, asked the judge whether he was declaring that he should use the men's aliases and not their birth names.

“Clearly I speak Greek. Since you want me to be explicit, don’t try to confuse the witness with names he does not refer to them in. You seem to think I just got here overnight. I have been in criminal court long enough. It is not right ...don’t do that,” Sykes said.

Bird, however, denied having any motive.

He then asked the judge for a moment to speak with his client and, upon his return, confirmed that was representing ‘Bigga’, although he had previously been mentioning ‘Tupac’ in his cross-examination.

Don’t Waste My Time

This was not the first time for the day that Sykes reprimanded Bird.

When it was his time to cross-examine the witness, Bird asked the judge if he could be moved to the bottom of the list because he had not received the notes of evidence he requested.

Sykes, however, told him that he should have been present at the beginning of the trial and that he was not sympathetic to such excuses because, according to him, that strategy has been used by some attorneys to delay proceedings.

“Mr Bird, this is a new day and age. Seems to me that there are senior attorneys who don’t understand the new dispensation that when a trial is set, it will be heard," Sykes said.

"Some attorneys feel that by their absence, the judge will adjourn the matter to a different day…when the matter is set for trial, barring unusual circumstances, it will begin,” Sykes added.

The case has been before the court for more than a year.

Stop Moving

Meanwhile, there was an uproar in court when Bird’s client, Hopeland Sankey, began moving around in the prisoners’ dock to get closer to his attorney.

“No movement of defendants in the dock, not unless I say so!” Sykes shouted.

“This is a criminal court. This is not your lawyer’s court, this is my court. Where unnu get this madness from,” he continued.

Sykes adjourned court early when Bird informed him that he was not prepared to cross-examine the witness because of difficulties he was having with Copeland Sankey.

The judge laughed and said he would adjourn early to give him enough time to prepare.

“You now have all of 24 hours beginning now. So we are going to take the adjournment now and resume at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. So you have all of this evening and all of tomorrow morning and part of the afternoon,” Sykes said.

Carlington Godfrey, Lindell Powell, Rannaldo McKennis, Derval Williams, Hopeton Stanley, Christon Grant, Copeland Sankey and Sean Suckra are on trial for various breaches of the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) 2014, commonly called the anti-gang legislation, in relation to crimes committed between 2016 and 2018.

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