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Police botching video evidence – DPP Williams

Police botching video  evidence – DPP Williams

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Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Collin Williams says that police officers seem reluctant to collect and make available to the prosecution, video/digital evidence that comes to their knowledge and possession during the investigation of criminal cases.

As a result, a number of cases have been lost.{{more}}

“I can identify cases where the investigator had digital/video evidence from civilians and they made a mess of that crucial bit of evidence, and as a result the cases go down the drain,” said Williams, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.

Giving an example, the DPP cited the murder of Devon ‘Jahjust’ Steele, which took place at Rose Place on May 5, 2013.

“This case comes immediately to mind, where the investigator/police botched the surveillance video evidence,” said the DPP.

On Thursday, October 22, 2015, Williams discontinued the prosecution against Long Wall resident Collin ‘Cocoa Bread’ David, who had been charged with Steele’s murder.

David was charged on June 24, 2013 for the murder of Steele, who sustained gunshot wounds to the back of his head and chest. Jomorni Tash, a resident of Rockies, was also charged in connection with Steele’s death, but the 22-year-old was acquitted of the murder at the Serious Offences Court, on March 20, 2014.

Williams, on Monday, gave another case in which, according to him, the police failed in producing the digital evidence.

“There was the Christmas time stabbing at Heritage Square in 2010, where a private individual captured the whole incident in a series of shots and again the investigator/police made a mess of it, not even taking a statement from the person who took the photographs,” said Williams.

The murder being referred to by Williams is the December 19, 2010 killing of 20-year-old Lisbon Lavia of Sandy Bay. Lavia succumbed to multiple stab and chop wounds about his body on December 19, at Heritage Square. The police later charged four persons: Nigel Thomas, 19 of Mesopotamia; Shanroy Browne, 18 of Cane End; Romeal Diamond, 16, a student of Mesopotamia; and Jevon Hamlet, 18, a student of Cane End.

The charge against Thomas was dismissed at the Serious Offences Court in 2011, while the other three men were released at the High Court a few months later.

The DPP’s comments come in the wake of the wide circulation on social media of a video which shows a woman, identified as Judy Richardson of Calder, beating an older man Felix ‘Crab’ Thomas, also of Calder.

Although the video may be entered as evidence if Richardson is charged, police have yet to charge the woman, as Thomas has refused to officially report the matter to investigators.

But the DPP said on Monday that while in St Vincent and the Grenadines, a case has never been conducted on video evidence without the testimony of a virtual complainant, the law exists for that to be done.

“There’s no reason why video evidence without a virtual complaint’s testimony cannot be used and be probative of the guilt of an accused,” said the DPP.(LC)

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