Defence lawyer raps cops for failing to check client's alibi


Defence lawyer raps cops for failing to check client's alibi

Senior staff reporter

Friday, November 22, 2019

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DEFENCE lawyer for the sole remaining accused in the chopping, shooting and beheading of a St Catherine mother and her daughter in 2011, Lloyd McFarlane, has chastised the police for failing to make checks or provide evidence relating to the alibi given by his client, Kemar Riley.

Riley has been fingered by the prosecution's key witness as confessing to him, while in the holding area of the Spanish Town Police Station, that he was with the group of men who invaded the home of Charmaine Rattray and her daughter Joeith Lynch, and was the man who shot Lynch in the head.

The witness said in that supposed jailhouse confession, Riley told him that the women were killed because their relatives had been responsible for the death of an individual named Scott Thomas.

But, taking the stand Wednesday for the first time since the trial began last week, Riley told the court that it was the morning after the killings “I hear that people dead down the road”.

He further denied knowing or speaking to the key prosecution witness, stating that he had never seen him before last Thursday. He also maintained that on the night of the murders, he was home with his mother, sisters and brothers, and had only received a phone call from his aunt who lived in another house in the same yard, asking him if he had heard gunshots, and he replied in the negative.

Yesterday, McFarlane, in addressing the jury, said the police had fallen down in their duty to his client on a crucial issue. He pointed out that the police had seized cellphones, including Riley's, but did not seek information from the telecommunication providers to confirm where the instruments were that night, based on Riley's insistence that his aunt had called him around the time of the murders to ask if he had heard gunshots.

“The police had his phone, why didn't they check it?” McFarlane wanted to know, adding that the police should have taken a statement from Riley's aunt in order to test his alibi.

“The police have not truly attempted to support the case in these regards,” he told the jurors.

He further ripped into the testimony of the star witness, branding him a liar and urging the jury not to find his client guilty based on the account of “a witness, [who is] a deportee, a fraud deportee, with no real record of honesty, who tells you Riley is not a man he talks to but yet says Riley told him he shot this girl”.

McFarlane said his insistence that the star witness “lied to the court under oath”, was further supported by the testimony of a police witness, called by the defence, who took the stand yesterday morning.

The witness said the 13-page statement he recorded from the former suspect turned prosecution star witness was read back to him, and the standard declaration read to him for him to say he understood the document, and he signed willingly.

He also maintained that he wrote down everything said by the witness — who told the court last week that he was not able to read well — pointing out: “I made an error with a name and I was reading back the document to him and he corrected that name.”

Asked whether during the exercise the star witness had mentioned anything about Riley to him, he said he had mentioned the name and given a description but had not told him about the supposed conversation in which he said Riley had confessed to shooting Lynch.

However, under cross-examination by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, the police witness said the statement he took from the witness was “just to account for himself between the time of the incident and the time he was taken into custody”, as he was instructed by his superior to do.

“Did you indicate to (name omitted) that that was all you wanted to hear?” the DPP pressed.

“Yes, Ma'am,” he replied, adding that two other statements were given by the star witness to other police personnel.

“Tell me, when you are in a rank-based organisation like yours, do you go outside those instructions?” the DPP wanted to know.

“No,” the witness replied.

But McFarlane, while addressing the jurors, was adamant that the caution statement, which is the sole piece of evidence against his client, could not stand up to scrutiny.

“There is no other evidence in this case that supports or corroborates the assertion that Kemar Riley was there. There is no forensic or ballistic evidence that Riley was there, no fingerprints, no blood sample, nothing, but solely on [the star witness] saying this man was there. You cannot believe him (star prosecution witness); he is lying. When you examine the evidence given by him you will see that he is lying,” he insisted.

He further contended that the prosecution had only called upon a particular police witness to testify that he had seen Riley and Adrian Campbell (another accused in the case) during the course of his duties on a particular date, to strengthen its argument that Riley had made the supposed jailhouse confession. The attorney argued that this became particularly clear, since the witness gave confusing accounts about the date he supposedly spoke with Riley, going so far as to say that the DPP tried to engineer the witness to give a different date from what he originally told the court.

“When the witness was saying, 'The Wednesday I go over to him', Miss Llewellyn told him to wait because he was about to say the conversation took place on the Wednesday,” McFarlane said, arguing that the witness kept going back to say he spoke with Riley from the Wednesday, even though the DPP kept mentioning Friday, July 29.

“It is clear from the evidence that Mr (name omitted) is saying this conversation took place from the Wednesday. This conversation is important [to the prosecution] because it is the only evidence that is there to say whether Mr Riley was there (at the scene during the murders). He told the police it was the Friday [that he had the conversation with Riley], the prosecution brought the police witness to support the Friday thing, and he told the jurors it was Wednesday. Mr (name withheld) is clearly lying to you under oath,” McFarlane charged.

He further argued that if Riley had indeed confessed, there was no way the witness would have waited until the Friday to tell the police because that would have been critical information the police would have jumped on, and the witness, by his own admission, had said the Friday was a hectic day as the police had taken them into the community to retrieve items as part of evidence on that day.

“You think they would have taken a statement about his whereabouts first if he had told the police that? It would have been in the statement on the 29th of July. The only conclusion, I suggest you can draw, is that he did not tell them about the conversation on the 29th, and the reason he didn't tell them is that that conversation never happened — neither Wednesday nor Friday.

“If he had, they would have had it in the statement, therefore, is lie him telling us; this is a lie that you have been asked to rely on in this important matter. The key witness lied to you,” McFarlane said, in closing his case.

Riley is one of five men later arrested and charged in relation to the brutal 2011 murders. Three of the men, Adrian Campbell, Roshane Goldson, and Fabian Smith, have since pleaded guilty to non-capital murder and are to be sentenced. Riley and his cousin Sanja Ducally, however, pleaded not guilty to murder and were standing trial. Ducally, on Wednesday, walked free after his lawyers made a successful no-case submission on his behalf.

The DPP is today expected to make her closing address to the jury.

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