Lying cop causes Gun Court case to crumble
Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
The Gun Court is flooded monthly with dozens of new cases, and some defence lawyers are now wondering how many of them may have been fabricated.
This is as a result of a case last week in which Supreme Court judge Bertram Morrison recommended that some policemen who were alleged witnesses should be reported to their superior officers for "fabricating evidence to get a conviction".
The judge said the case smacked of the kind of "impropriety which is very flagrant and goes against the rights of persons".
He indicated that in the case before him, there was a deliberate attempt to deceive the court as the statements given by the police officers indicated one set of facts, the case summary submitted by the investigating officer suggested a different set of facts, and the sworn evidence of the investigating officer indicated a a third set of facts.
Justice Morrison made the comments after the Crown offered no further evidence against 32-year-old Shawn Thompson, clothes vendor, of Calabar Mews, St Andrew.
Attorney-at-law Alando Terrelonge who represented Thompson was livid.
"It has become more and more apparent that there are some police officers who are prepared to fabricate evidence and mislead the court to achieve convictions in the cases they have brought against accused persons," Terrelonge told The Sunday Gleaner.
"I have done several cases where the prosecution was of the view that the accused persons' guilt was not in question and the Crown was certain of a guilty verdict.
"However, after cross-examination, it was revealed that the officers were lying and sought to frame certain young men, knowing full well that if the men were found guilty, they would be locked away for 15 years," added Terrelonge.
He argued that this kind of practice by members of the police force must be rejected.
Terrelonge's concerns were shared by fellow defence lawyer Diane Jobson: "I have had cases where judges totally dismiss the police evidence, that is to say, did not believe what the police said."
Senior attorney-at-law Bert Samuels agreed. "You need not produce a live gun in court to sustain a conviction for illegal possession of firearm, and this situation has been abused by persons on mere say-so to make out cases that people were armed with guns."
Three policemen, including a sergeant and a deputy superintendent, were to testify at Thompson's trial, but after the constable who was the investigating officer was discredited under cross-examination, the prosecutor conceded that the case could not be rehabilitated and offered no further evidence.
The policeman had claimed that on June 4, 2010, a call was made to police radio control that a man armed with a gun was seen running in Norbrook, St Andrew.
The policeman said when they went to the area, he saw a man with a gun in his right hand and a square object in his left hand.
According to the constable, the armed man ran through some bushes and he saw the man's face for five seconds.
Under cross-examination by Terrelonge, the policeman insisted that Thompson had a gun in his hand.
He was shown his statement, and he agreed that in it he had said he did not see the man's face and had seen what appeared to be a gun in his hand.
The policeman said he gave a case summary of the event to the clerk of the courts and he agreed. In it he gave a different account from his testimony in court.
The policeman said in the case summary that the police and citizens chased the man, caught him and citizens beat him. He said the man was taken to the bushes where the gun and cellular phone were found.
A week after he was in custody, Thompson was questioned about the incident and a third account was put to him about the incident.
The policeman admitted in re-examination that the case summary was inaccurate, but he said he did not expect that the lawyer would have questioned him about the case summary.
The judge described the revelations by the policeman as a deliberate attempt to deceive the court.