Murder case collapses after cops are caught lying
Last week, Anthony 'Bugussu' Powell, a 56-year-old higgler, was smiling broadly as he peddled his goods on the streets of downtown Kingston, but his customers could never know the injustice he suffered for the last seven years.
Powell spent four of the seven years behind bars accused of murders and lost everything he possessed.
However, what upsets him the most is that the police did not give accurate accounts or tell the truth in relation to the statements they said they took from the deceased days before he died in hospital.
"I am happy to be a free man today and happy that my name has been cleared because I was accused of a crime I did not commit," Powell told The Sunday Gleaner last week.
"The four years I spent in custody before I was released on bail ruined my family, ruined my business, and I will never recover those four years that I was robbed of," said Powell.
ARRESTED IN 2010
The father of three says when he was arrested in February 2010, his children were just in the process of going to high school and many days they were absent from classes because he was the sole breadwinner for his family.
"My children suffered bad, bad, bad because of the false accusation and injustice, and one of my daughters even dropped out of school and began to go astray," said Powell.
He told our news team that he is now planning to file a lawsuit against the Government because he is not satisfied with the police's handling of the case.
According to Powell, while he had disagreements with several relatives of the deceased long before the shooting incident, he had nothing to do with the murder.
"I am grateful to my lawyers for doing all they could to give me back my freedom, but the stress and suffering I and my family went through cannot be erased from my memory and I have difficulty sleeping at nights," said Powell.
"I know I have to try to move on with my life and put the past behind, but the stress my family and I went through because of those lies cannot be erased from my memory and I still have difficulty sleeping at nights," added Powell.
Attorney-at-law Lynden Wellesley, who represented Powell, said the now-freed man has every right to be angry because some of the witnesses, including the police, were not truthful.
"If it were not for the inspiration, keen interest, and thorough investigation by the defence team and, in particular, the request to the hospital for the admittance register for the deceased, Powell would now be looking forward to a long stretch in prison," said Wellesley, who led the defence team.
The attorney said he fully agrees with the comments made by Justice Evan Brown at the end of the case last week that there was a "travesty of justice".
According to Wellesley, with details from the hospital's register, he was able to cross-examine the doctor to prove that the police were not telling the truth in relation to statements they claimed were taken from the deceased while he was in hospital.
"This case highlights the insidiousness of some police officers, who are determined to break the law," said Wellesley, as he urged fellow defence attorneys to be careful and research their cases before they agree facts and statements with prosecutors.
He said Powell's case was mentioned several times in court and the prosecution had asked him to agree to the facts in the pathologist report, but he refused because he wanted to get the admittance register.
On January 26, 2010, 43-year-old Richard Burke was shot in the back of the neck while he was standing at the intersection of East Street and Tower Street in downtown Kingston.
The police claimed that they visited Burke at the Kingston Public Hospital on the day of the incident and he said it was Bugussu (Powell) who shot him.
According to the police, they returned to the hospital the following day and spent two hours taking a statement from Burke, but he could not sign it because he was paralysed. A policeman signed as a witness to the statement, which was not completed because they claimed that Burke said he had a headache.
The police also claimed that on the third day, they returned to the hospital to complete the statement and Burke asked if they had caught Bugussu yet.
Two of Burke's relatives also told the court that he had told them that Bugussu had shot him before he died on the evening of the third day that he was in hospital.
But during cross-examination, the doctor who treated Burke told the court that she did not see any police visiting at the time they claimed, and from the injury he had suffered, he could not give a statement for two hours when the police claimed he did.
The doctor said that based on the nature of the surgery, Burke was not able to speak and, therefore, could not give a statement lasting two hours the next day, as claimed by the police.
Wellesley told our news team that it was based on the medical evidence that the Crown offered no further evidence against Powell.