Court of Appeal overturns ex-cop's murder conviction, orders retrial
The Court of Appeal has overturned the conviction and life sentence of Rushon Hamilton, the ex-cop found guilty in 2012 of murdering 14-y-o schoolgirl, Jhaneel Goulbourne in 2008.
The court said the trial judge made several errors in dealing with the evidence given against Hamilton by persons in custody.
It ordered a retrial "in the interest of justice" at the earliest possible time.
"It is apparent that, in the trial, the need for caution first arose on the Crown's case. In our view, that need was further accentuated with the testimony of Brooks, whose evidence supported the defence advanced by the applicant, of a plot arrived at in an attempt to “frame” him," said Justice Frank Williams who wrote the decision that was handed down today.
"Unfortunately, the summation does not show that any “special attention” was given to the risks associated with cell confessions. It reads as any other summation would, addressing issues (primarily credibility) in the usual, expected way."
The court also said that a close reading of the transcript of the trial "unfortunately reveals that the learned judge failed even to identify the things the witnesses Hinds and Bentley testified were said by the applicant as cell confessions".
Devon Brooks was an inmate who testified at the trial which was presided over by the now retired Justice Lloyd Hibbert. Brooks had testified that he learnt of an alleged plot against Hamilton involving inmates Lennox Hinds and Newton Bentley, both of whom were used by the prosecution.
The witnesses testified that while they were in custody with Hamilton, he confessed that in 2008, he shot Goulbourne, and threw her body at sea.
However, Hamilton denied the allegation in his unsworn statement.
Hamilton was initially charged with carnal abuse and indecent assault of the teen. But a murder charge was added after the child disappeared.
King's Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson and attorney-at-law Robert Fletcher represented Hamilton.
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