Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
RUDOLPH BROWN/CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER - The six policemen who were yesterday freed of murder charges in the Home Cicuit Court celebrate with Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams (third left). The freed policemen are (from left): Devon Bernard, Linroy Edwards, Raymond Miller, Leighton Bucknor,
Wayne Constantine and Miguel Ebanks.
THERE WAS much jubilation outside the Home Circuit Court, downtown Kingston, yesterday after six policemen were freed of the
murder charges of the killing of seven young men in a house in Braeton, St. Catherine, on the morning of March 14, 2001.
After the jury returned from
the crime scene, defence lawyer
K. Churchill Neita, Q.C., and Patrick Atkinson made no-case submissions.
Paula Llewellyn, senior deputy director of public prosecutions conceded that there was no
evidence against Corporal Devon Bernard because there was nothing to suggest he had been at the crime scene.
NO CASE SUBMISSION
Mr. Justice Donald McIntosh upheld the no-case submission in respect to Constables Leighton Bucknor and Miguel Ebanks, Corporals Wayne Constantine
and Linroy Edwards and Sergeant Raymond Miller. The judge
directed the 12-member jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
The policemen were on trial since January 17, charged with the murder of Lancelot Clarke, Christopher Grant, Curtis Smith, Tamoya Wilson, Regan Beckford, André Virgo and Dane Whyte.
"We are happy; justice has been served," Constable Bucknor said after he was freed. The policemen hugged their relatives, lawyers and colleagues outside the courtroom.
Police witnesses who were called to testify for the Crown said when they went to the house at Lot 1088 Fifth Seal Way, Braeton, men from inside the house fired shots at them and they returned the fire. The policemen said that after Senior Superintendent Reneto shouted "police" and said he had warrants to arrest men inside the house for murder, they were greeted with gunshots .
The Crown contended that the policemen were not acting in lawful self defence when the men were killed. After calling 24 witnesses, including ballistics expert Daniel Wray, the Crown closed its case.
Defence lawyers submitted yesterday that there was no evidence to connect the accused men with the shooting.
By that the lawyers meant that no evidence was led that the policemen were at the murder scene or that the firearms issued to them were used to commit the crime.
Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn strongly opposed the application in respect to the other five policemen, while conceding that there was no evidence for Constable Devon Bernard to answer because there was no evidence that he was at the crime scene.
She insisted that there was sufficient evidence to prove that they were aiders and abettors in the commission of the crime and should be called upon to answer to the charges.
The judge remarked that the crown witness Delroy Ledley who the Crown was relying on to prove its case did not identify any of the policemen .
The judge gave very detailed reasons why he was upholding the no case submission made by the defence lawyers. He said that all the other Crown witnesses except Delroy Ledley had said that the policemen were acting in lawful self defence. He said it was dark when Ledley said he saw policemen outside in the pathway at Fifth Seal Way and saw some men on the ground but Ledley did not identify anyone.
The judge said that was the reason the jurors went to the crime scene to see for themselves what had happened that morning in the dark.
He explained to the jury what was the law in relation to self defence and pointed out that the evidence called by the prosecution established that the policemen were acting in lawful self defence.