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Shocked, did not expect that to happen – Lawyer

Shocked, did not expect that to happen – Lawyer


Lisa Hooper’s lawyer, Jomo Thomas says that his client should not have been made to take the oath and allowed to be cross-examined after a statement which she gave to police was already admitted into evidence by the prosecution.{{more}}

On Tuesday, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, following the close of the prosecution’s case in the matter where Hooper is facing three cocaine related charges, Thomas refused to have his client take the stand to give testimony, stating that he was relying on the video interview as her statement.

“The magistrate then says my client has to be sworn and then cross-examined on a statement which the police took from her. That is unprecedented,” Thomas said.

“How could you put a statement in and want to cross-examine her. It is their (prosecution) statement. They can’t cross-examine her. Having taken a statement from her, they can’t get another chance to examine her,” Thomas told the court.

According to Thomas, he has never seen what transpired at the court in all of his 20 years as a practising attorney.

“Why is she being asked to take the oath when she is not giving any evidence to the court? My position is that we don’t have any statement to give. We are not putting forward a case to the court. What is in is in,” he added.

Thomas said such a matter goes to the heart of “fair trial,” stating that an accused has a right to remain silent and the court can’t demand of an accused who gave a statement to the police, that she be cross-examined on that statement.

“Once we say we are not offering any further evidence, we should have immediately gone to closing arguments. For the prosecution to put in a statement of my client and at the end of the prosecution’s case for the magistrate to allow them to swear my client and cross-examine her on that statement is against fair play and fair trial that I am aware,” Thomas told SEARCHLIGHT.

“I was shocked. I did not expect that to happen. I was really shocked,” Thomas added.

As the cross-examination commenced, Thomas rose to his feet and asked magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias to put on record his objection to the cross-examination of his client.

However, senior prosecutor in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Adolphus Delpeche says what was done in court is “perfectly normal” in law.

“Once the oath is taken, an accused is likely to be cross-examined,” Delpeche told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

“If she did not take the oath, I could not cross-examine her. He (Thomas) was saying that he is relying on the statement that she gave to the police by video recording,” Delpeche said.

“His intentions, I’m only assuming, maybe was for her to stay silent. But if that was his intention, she should not have taken the oath,” Delpeche added.

Hooper will reappear in court today when the prosecution and defense will deliver submissions on the matter.

Hooper is before the court for possession of 1,235 grams of cocaine, and two charges of conspiracy to export and drug trafficking, between July 1 and 24, 2013, at the E.T. Joshua Airport.

The cocaine was found in three cans of Hairoun beverage products: Presidente beer, Hairoun beer and Vitamalt.

The illegal substance was discovered during a search of the luggage of Nathan Smith of Kent England, on July 24, 2013.

He told police officers that it was Hooper who brought the cans for him to carry back to England.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years imprisonment for his involvement in the crime and was used in court as a prosecution witness.