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DPP defends rape trial despite DNA shocker

Published:Sunday | February 17, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn is standing by her decision to continue the prosecution of the two men charged with the rape of five women in St James despite DNA samples not matching the two accused.

"Given the circumstances of the case, the public interest and the nature of the other evidence we would be usurping the role of the supreme trier, the judge, if we were to stop the prosecution," Llewellyn told The Sunday Gleaner.

"It is for a judge to hear the evidence and then decide if there is proof beyond doubt," added Llewellyn of the incident which attracted national interest last September after it was disclosed that the five females, including an eight-year-old, had been raped.

Since last week when the court was told that DNA samples suggested that the two brothers were not the rapists legal minds have questioned why the DPP did not withdraw the case.

Among those raising concern was prominent attorney-at-law Bert Samuels who told The Sunday Gleaner that the prosecution is obliged, in his opinion, to enter a nolle prosequi thereby stopping the trial of the men.

False imprisonment

He said the men could take action for false imprisonment once the charges have been dropped.

"If the DNA does not match, the Crown will have a difficult hurdle to get over to make out a rape case against the men," agreed attorney-at-law Christian Tavares Finson.

He said if the Crown goes forward with the case then it will have to explain that the DNA profiles do not match the accused men.

But attorney-at-law Leroy Equiano said the fact that DNA profiles do not match does not mean that there may not be other evidence to link the accused to the crime.

That is the position of Llewellyn who argued that based on the other evidence in the case the prosecutors had no option but to continue.

"Each case has to be judged on its facts. While the DNA is a major plank of the evidence, it is for a judge to hear all the evidence and make a decision.

"The pendulum of justice swings both ways and if there was not other evidence I would be obliged to act differently," declared Llewellyn.

Not compulsory

It is not compulsory for accused persons to give DNA samples and attorney-at-law Michael Lorne explained that if accused persons comply to give such samples it can be helpful for both them and the prosecution.

Lorne said if the samples taken from the crime scene did not match the samples taken from the men then in such circumstances it could be a very strong case for the defence.

He argued that it is his view that the men ought not to be put on trial because the DNA tests exonerates them.

However, Lorne admitted that it depends on what the witnesses are saying.

"If they are saying these are the men who committed the rape, then the evidence in regard to the other charges would be manifestly unreliable."

The men who are charged in connection with the incident on September 24, last year, are brothers Kerron and Sheldon Brissett. They are facing charges of rape, wounding with intent and illegal possession of firearm. They have been offered bail and are to return to the Western Regional Gun Court on March 4.