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Court to decide of evidence of former commish to be used in the Al Miller case

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 8:42 PMLivern Barrett

A magistrate is to reveal today whether she will allow evidence given by retired Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington to the west Kingston commission of enquiry to be used in the corruption trial of popular pastor the Reverend Merrick 'Al' Miller.

The decision was left to Resident Magistrate Simone Wolfe-Reece after prosecutors objected to an attempt by Miller's attorney, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, to have excerpts of Ellington's testimony before the three-member tribunal included in the clergyman's corruption trial.

Miller, who is the pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle Church, located in St Andrew, is on trial for attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was charged after then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke was held in his vehicle along Mandela Highway in St Catherine in 2010.

The clergyman, through his attorneys, has maintained that he was taking Coke to surrender at the United States Embassy in St Andrew and that members of the Police High Command were, at all times, aware of his actions.

At the start of the trial, Ellington, through his attorney, indicated that he would not voluntarily cooperate with Miller's attorneys. "If the defence wants him as a hostile witness, he will attend," Ellington's attorney, Christopher Honeywell, told the court at the time.

Discussions with Miller

However, in his testimony before the commission, Ellington spoke of, among other things, holding discussions with Miller about his efforts to persuade Coke to surrender to the police.

Yesterday, Maria Jones, secretary to the west Kingston commission of enquiry, testified in the Corporate Area Criminal Court that at the request of Miller's attorney, she extracted excerpts of the transcript of Ellington's testimony before the tribunal and certified them as being official.

But when Samuels-Brown made an application for sections of the document to be tendered into evidence, prosecutor Larona Montague Williams objected.

"We are objecting on the basis that the documents are not admissible as they are not in accordance with the rules of evidence," Montague Williams argued in her submission to the magistrate.

Official documents

Samuels-Brown disagreed, countering that they were official public documents and that their authenticity had been established by Jones' testimony. "It does satisfy the rules of evidence," the attorney underscored.

She charged that in failing to make Ellington and his former deputy commissioner, Jevene Bent, available to Miller's defence meant that the prosecution was proceeding on an "unfair basis".

According to Samuels-Brown, it also amounted to an abuse of the court process and a breach of Miller's right to a fair trial.