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Lawyer wants serious probe into ‘Laybay’s’ death

Lawyer wants serious probe into ‘Laybay’s’ death

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A lawyer whose client was jailed for life, based on the testimony of Uroy “Laybay” Robertson, 24, wants a “serious investigation of the circumstances surrounding why he was killed” on Sunday.{{more}}

Robertson died after receiving a bullet to the left side of his head around 7:30 p.m., about an hour after he was released from police custody.

He was walking with friends on the road in Walvaroo, Sion Hill.

The call by Jomo Thomas on Tuesday came as he confirmed to SEARCHLIGHT that Robertson had given him a sworn affidavit recanting the testimony that resulted in Azari Ash and Che Bute being sentenced in July, 2012, to life in prison for the 2007 murder of Lloyd “Lazarus” Samuel of Redemption Sharpes.

Thomas represented Bute in the matter and Robertson told the court that he was present when Ash and Bute planned the murder.

Thomas said that the affidavit was signed and sworn to on May 7, 2012 — almost three months before the men were sentenced.

He, however, said that he would not give the media a copy of affidavit or speak specifically about its contents, because it had not been filed as part of an appeal on behalf of his client.

But well-placed sources told SEARCHLIGHT that Robertson said in the sworn statement that he had lied under oath because police officers promised him a passport and to send him out of the country, if he testified against Ash and Bute.

Robertson’s sister Tashell Robertson had also heard reports that the police had promised her brother a passport.

“He tell me police was going to send him ‘way so they send him to take out his passport,” she told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday. “They gave him the money to take out the passport. He got through with the passport real fast because of the police. I know they would have help him; he wanted to go to Barbados.”

However, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller said Tuesday that he did not make such an offer, neither had he instructed any cop to do so.

“We don’t barter with evidence. Giving evidence, to me, is like national duty,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

“It is a voluntary thing. … You cannot say, … ‘I want you to give evidence against John Brown and I will give you XYZ’. That’s totally incorrect. … It’s a bribe. … That’s trouble,” the police chief further said.

The commissioner had told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday that he doesn’t think that Robertson’s death should deter people from giving information to the police or testifying in court.

“People testify in all sorts of matters,” Miller said. “But you have to study the history of that young man. That was not an ordinary case.”

But Thomas said if cops made offers to Robertson in exchange for his testimony, “it presents certain problems for future witnesses who want to come forward and make statements and even testify in a court of law.

“Because if the police don’t do what they promise the witness they will do, the witness could face many problems, including the ultimate problem,” Thomas further said.

Thomas said that during the trial, the defence had accused Robertson of lying and made the point that on the day he told the police about the murder of Samuel, he was compromised by the police detaining him that morning on a robbery investigation.

Nothing ever came of that robbery investigation, Thomas said.

But a legal expert told SEARCHLIGHT that in light of the affidavit, it would be unlikely that the convicted men would have orchestrated Robertson’s death, since his testimony could have seen them released, when the case goes to appeal.

The expert also noted that the affidavit is still valid, and as good as Robertson’s spoken word in open court — although he is dead.

COP ‘cannot recall’

Meanwhile, Miller told SEARCHLIGHT he “cannot recall” if his office authorised cops to offer Robertson safe passage out of this country because of the testimony he gave.

But the police chief said that the local constabulary offers witness protection, if requested, or if cops feel that a witness could be at risk because of their testimony.

Asked if Robertson had requested witness protection, Miller said: “Not as far as I am aware.”

He, however, added: “If he had asked, if it was necessary, had he required that — we have to provide witness protection for people safety …

“I am not aware of any specific thing for Uroy Robertson. Let us get it clear, too, that we have provided witness protection for persons in the past right here in St Vincent or across the region, as the case warrants,” Miller further told SEARCHLIGHT.

Police arrested Robertson on Friday in connection with a robbery and released him Sunday evening.

Thomas, who represented Robertson in previous matters, noted that his death, shortly after being released from police custody, could be purely coincidental.

Robertson was also shot in the arm on July 24, nine days after the court sentenced Ash and Bute. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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