Fri | Sep 22, 2023

Cop seeking to have corruption conviction overturned

Published:Friday | March 18, 2022 | 12:11 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

A detective constable found guilty of perverting the course of justice for requesting $30,000 from a murder victim’s relative to pay a potential witness in the case is now awaiting a decision from the Court of Appeal on whether his conviction will be quashed.

The lawman, Oneil Barrett, had requested the money to pay the potential witness to sign a statement that he had given but had refused to sign.

The constable, who was assigned to the Major Investigation Division, was in March of 2020 ordered to pay $150,000 or serve three months in prison by a St Catherine Parish Court judge.

However, on Wednesday, the appellate court reserved its decision after hearing arguments from Barrett’s lawyer, Walter Melbourne, who is contending that the sentencing judge had made a number of missteps.

Prosecutors had led evidence that the policeman was assigned to probe the November 25, 2016, murder of Darcia Minott in the Jericho area of Linstead, St Catherine.

During the investigation, Barrett recorded a statement from an alleged eyewitness, who refused to sign it.

The policeman then requested $30,000 from the sister of the deceased to pay the witness to sign the statement.

A report was made and Barrett was charged following a ruling by the director of public prosecutions and later found guilty in the parish court.

Barrett, however, appealed his sentence on the grounds that the judge had erred in law by failing to uphold the no-case submissions, to interpret and apply the law of intention, and also in extending the offence of attempting to pervert the course of public justice.

The constable also contended that he was deprived of a fair trial because of the judge’s failure to exercise her powers to order an amendment of the offence on the indictment as the evidence did not support the offence, and further, that the verdict was unfair having regard to the evidence.

Melbourne told The Gleaner that his client should never have been found guilty of corruption as the threshold for a conviction was not achieved.

He maintained that his client had not done anything improper, breached any force policy, or contravened any law.

Melbourne explained that it was the potential witness who had asked for the payment and that his client had simply passed on the information to the relative, who had initially agreed.

He further added that while his client’s action may be seen as unsavoury or unethical, there was nothing dishonest or criminal about what he had done.