A defence attorney in the Uchence Wilson gang trial has said that the police, in conjunction with the prosecution, need to properly investigate matters before bringing persons before the courts.
Attorney Cecile Griffiths-Ashton — whose client, Keron Walters, was one of several accused freed between the start of the trial in March 2019 and today — said it appears that proper investigation was not conducted in the matter.
She told Loop News that this issue was not unique to the Uchence Wilson gang trial.
“It is unfortunate that Mr Walters was brought before the court for an offence like this. From time to time the police make arrests without investigating a complaint and then use the opportunity when the suspects are in custody to try and investigate the matter,” said Griffiths-Ashton who appeared along with Roxanne Smith for Walters.
“What needs to be done is that a matter needs to be properly investigated to avoid innocent persons being brought before the courts and in cases where a person is charged the matter can be disposed of in a manner that the court sees fit,” she added.
Griffiths-Ashton said that had this been done, her client, who is a mechanic, would not have been charged in the first place.
“The evidence did not meet the threshold that is required by the legislation to find that Mr Walters was a part of a criminal organisation,” she added.
The trial started with 24 accused — including gang leader Uchence Wilson and police officer Lloyd Knight — but a number of them were let go at the initial stages of the proceedings.
Several others were acquitted in the closing days of the matter. The trial concluded today with only nine convictions. Wilson was among the convicts, who will be sentenced by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes on November 30 in the Home Circuit Court.
Knight, Walters and two other men were acquitted today.
The Crown had alleged that the accused were part of a criminal gang, which conducted a string of robberies across sections of the island, between 2015 and 2017, which netted them $400 million.
They were charged under the highly touted anti-gang legislation.
In issuing the acquittals, Skyes, who sat as both judge and juror, did not rely on the evidence of one of the prosecution’s two main witnesses. He said he found that witness unreliable.
Meanwhile, Griffiths-Ashton described Walters — who had been in custody for three years — as being elated by the verdict.
“He indicated that he will be sleeping in his bed tonight, and also that he has missed out on a lot and he has a lot of time to make up with his family,” the attorney added.