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Forensic evidence frees man of shooting charge

Published:Monday | January 25, 2010 | 1:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A Rastafarian man who was accused of shooting at the police was freed last Friday because of major discrepancies in the Crown's case.

Supreme Court Judge Bryan Sykes freed Michael Morgan, 21, labourer, of August Town, St Andrew, of charges of shooting with intent and illegal possession of a firearm.

Evidence was given in the Gun Court that on March 17, 2008, the police were patrolling on August Town Road when they saw Morgan and another man. The men opened fire at the police and a shoot-out ensued. The men ran and the police chased Morgan to a premises along Reserve Road.

Swabbed for gunpowder residue

The police entered the premises and searched a house where Morgan was found hiding behind a curtain in the kitchen. The police searched the kitchen and a shotgun, which the police claimed Morgan used to shoot at them, was found. Morgan's hands were swabbed for gunpowder residue.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Peter Champagnie, who represented Morgan, the police said when they checked the shotgun it had five live rounds and one in the breech. However, the ballistics certificate tendered by the Crown stated that the shotgun was capable of holding only four rounds of ammunition.

The defence called a government forensic scientist who testified that the result for the swabs was negative. The witness said it meant that there was no gunpowder deposit on Morgan's hands and therefore the conclusion was that he had not fired any weapon.

Morgan said in his defence that he was on the road and when he heard explosions he ran and hid inside the house.

Justice Sykes freed Morgan based on the discrepancies concerning the firearm and the evidence of the forensic scientist.