Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
The Court of Appeal has levelled sharp criticisms at former Assistant Commissioner of Police Justin Felice for the manner in which a search was conducted at the home of Superintendent Harry 'Bungles' Daley.
Felice came under judicial fire for his refusal to provide vital information to the defence in relation to the complainant Tafari Clarke.
Daley won his appeal last Friday against his conviction for breaching the Corruption Prevention Act.
A verdict of acquittal was entered and his 18 months' prison sentence set aside.
In its written ruling handed down last Friday, the Court of Appeal - comprising its president Justice Seymour Panton, Justice Mahadev Dukharan and Justice Norma McIntosh - said the complainant was allowed to give unsubstantiated prejudicial evidence which must have coloured the judgment of Senior Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey.
The complainant had said that Daley was a "dangerous man" who had "all the gunmen on both sides and the police".
The court held that there was no stated basis for this statement.
In referring to Felice's action in the case, the court said the "credit worthiness" of the witness Tafari Clarke was of critical importance.
"There was evidence he made an application for asylum in the United Kingdom and it was denied. There is a file in respect of this application.
"Disclosure of it was requested in order that the statements made to support the application could be examined. The disclosure was sought of none other than the arresting officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police Justin Felice.
"He decided he would make no checks in that regard. He said that he was not convinced that the asylum information was important to the case," said the Appeal Court.
"In fact, he (Felice) said in evidence that it was irrelevant. With the greatest of respect that was not a determination for him to make. His duty was to disclose. And it was not a situation in which he was unable to disclose," the judges said. The court said further that there could be no doubt that the file ought to be have been made available to the defence in order for them to get a true picture of the individual (Tafari Clarke) whose credibility was to determine the outcome of the case.
Very strange ...
The court said Felice did something else that was very strange.
The judges noted that Daley's house was searched in his absence while he was in custody.
It was noted that Felice said he was not present at the search and all the items taken were documents.
"No one was present at this search on behalf of the appellant (Daley) nor was there a justice of the peace to observe the proceedings. Further no list was made of the documents that were removed.
"This is another critical aspect of the case in view of the defence of the appellant that he had a legitimate loan transaction with the deceased Miller and that the transaction had been reduced to writing.
"Not only had it been reduced to writing but it had been witnessed and reviewed by a justice of the peace. The appellant was not able to produce this document due to the search of his premises and the removal of items therefrom," the court said.
RM Pusey was also criticised by the court. "We found it strange that the learned senior resident magistrate rejected the evidence of both justices of the peace and accepted that of Tafari Clarke, a proven teller of false tales," the court said.
The judges pointed out that the charge against Daley stated that he corruptly accepted money for offering protection to Tafari Clarke and his premises which were under threat.
It was the court's finding that there was absolutely no evidence of Clarke or the premises being under threat by anyone.
"Clarke gave no evidence of any threat to him or the plaza," the court said.
On Friday, as news came that he had been acquitted, the senior crime fighter wept openly in court.
It was not clear whether Daley was weeping for joy or out of frustration.
"People think I have money but I have been suffering for the last four and a half years," said Daley who had been arrested during a sting operation in July 2008 while collecting $15,000 in marked notes from businessman Clarke.
The Crown had led evidence that he used his authority to bully Clarke into paying him $20,000 monthly as protection money for a plaza in Ewarton, St Catherine.
Attorneys-at-law Valerie Neita Robertson and Deborah Martin, who represented Daley, had argued that RM Pusey erred at the trial by allowing prejudicial and inadmissible evidence.
The lawyers also argued that there were many discrepancies and inconsistencies in the Crown's case.
Daley said he was innocent and had said in his defence that the money was for a loan owed to him by Clarke's father who had since died.