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Victim recants to get convicts off the hook... but court doesn't buy it

Published:Monday | February 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A MAN who was the complainant in a case in which two men were convicted and sent to prison did not convince the Court of Appeal last week when he said he wanted to purge his guilty conscience.

He said the convicted men were not the ones who had shot and injured him.

The court, in dismissing the appeal of labourers Frederick Minott and Kirk Gardener, of Olympic Gardens, Kingston 11, said the evidence of the witness was not believable.

The men were sentenced to a total of nine years' imprisonment in 2007 for illegal possession of firearm, shooting with intent and wounding with intent. They were in prison pending the outcome of the appeal and the court ordered that the sentences should run from November 3, 2007.

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton, and Justices Hazel Harris and Mahadev Dukharan will give their reasons in writing at a later date.

After the men were convicted, they appealed their convictions and sentences. The complainant gave an affidavit in which he said it was a don, dubbed 'Spiderman', in the Olympic Gardens area of Kingston 11 who told him to say that it was the men who shot him. The complainant gave fresh evidence in the Court of Appeal and was cross-examined by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Diahann Gordon-Harrison.

In his testimony, the witness said at the trial that in November 2006, he was on White Avenue, Kingston 11, when he saw the two men, whom he knew, firing shots. It was about1 p.m. and the accused were firing shots at men who were by a wall. The witness said he was shot and injured by the men.

Change of heart

He said about a year after the men were convicted, he went to the Office of the Public Defender's office and gave a statement that it was Spiderman who told him to give evidence against the appellant, Kirk Gardener. He said he gave the statement because he wanted to clear his conscience.

Giving fresh evidence in the Court of Appeal, he said it was while he was on his way to the hospital that Spiderman wrote on paper that he should say it was Gardener who shot him. He said Spiderman told him that if he did not carry out his instructions, his mother would be killed. He said his mother was eventually killed before the case was tried.

Questioned by the court, he said it was a book Spiderman gave him with the written instructions.

Attorney-at-law Leroy Equiano, who represented the accused, asked the court to accept the witness' new evidence. Equiano said any doubt which the court had should be resolved in favour of the appellants.

Prosecutor Gordon-Harrison said the witness gave different versions as to what Spiderman said. She asked the court to find that the evidence was woefully incredible and an insult to the court.

The court upheld her submissions.