The lawyer who represented himself in the Supreme Court on charges that he conspired to have a prosecution witness to give false evidence and won, has now won the appeal filed by the Director of Prosecution’s Carrington Mahoney.
In a 16-page ruling handed down on June 17th, Court of Appeal President Sir Scott Baker dismissed the Crown’s case against Kamal Worrell, who was represented by lawyer Arthur Hodgson.
The appeal stems from a Supreme Court ruling by Puisne Judge Charlesetta Simmons on November 30, 2015, who directed a jury to acquit Mr Worrell on the ground that there was no case to answer.
Mr Worrell was charged with three offences: Conspiracy to Defeat Justice, Fabricating Evidence, and Perjury with two co-defendants, Dujon Reid-Anderson and Devon Hewey. Both co-defendants were convicted.
The Crown alleged that all three defendants “had caused Lavon Thomas to give false evidence at the retrial of Hewey and a man called Cox in which it alleged that they had attempted to murder Thomas.
Court of Appeal President, Lord Justice Baker noted that “the false evidence was that Hewey was not one of the two men on a motorcycle from which shots were fired at Thomas. The incident occurred on March 24, 2012, near what was then Shine’s Nightclub.
“The case was of particular gravity because the Respondent (Worrell) was, at the material time, the lawyer representing Hewey,” said Justice Baker.
He stated from the outset in his ruling that the DPPs appeal “is unusual for two reasons”.
“First the judge (Justice Simmons) had ruled at the close of the prosecution’s case that there was a no case to answer but reversed her decision at the conclusion of the defence evidence. Second it was only on November 2015, during the course of the trial, that the law changed to give the Crown a right to appeal against such a ruling,” said Justice Baker.
Outlining the case, he said: “The conspiracy began in May 2014 when Reid-Anderson began discussing the case with Thomas in a bid to help his cousin Hewey to ‘get off the case’. Hewey was interested in how Thomas’ account might be tailored to assist Hewey’s defence.”
Cell phone conversations between Hewey, who was in prison, and Thomas were submitted as evidence during the trial. Hewey offered Thomas $3,500 to alter his police statement. Threatening voice notes from Reid-Anderson to Thomas were also submitted.
Reid-Anderson arranged a meeting with Thomas at the West End Primary School on September 14, 2014 to speak with Mr Worrell. “This meeting lies at the heart of the Crown’s case of conspiracy against all three,” said Justice Baker.
“Indeed the jury convicted Hewey and Reid-Anderson. There was clear evidence that Hewey, through Reid-Anderson, had already leant on Thomas to give false evidence and indeed had agreed to pay him to do so. What is less clear is the point at which the Respondent (Worrell) came onto the scene and his state of mind when he did so. What we do know is that the Respondent agreed arrangements [sic] to attend a meeting at West End Primary School on 14 September 2014.”
But Mr Worrell “secretly recorded the meeting”. “Neither Thomas or Reid-Anderson was aware of this. There is a transcript of what was said at the meeting and for my part I gained nothing additional from listening to the recording which was played for us during the appeal,” said Justice Baker.
Hewey and Cox were found not guilty of the shooting in the initial trial. When Mr Worrell was later arrested the 18-minute recording of the schoolyard meeting was recovered from his cell phone. Justice Baker said: “He had made no attempt to hide it from the Police.”
Justice Baker noted that he read the transcript of Mr Mahoney’s submission on behalf of the Crown “carefully” and his exchanges with Justice Simmons. But he said he was not convinced “that he was able to identify anything that added to the Crown’s case”.
“I accept that the judge had a duty in this case to review the position at the conclusion of the evidence bearing in mind, as the judge said, that the case against the Respondent, as opposed to that against the other two defendants, was a borderline case,” said Justice Baker.
As for the secretly recorded conversation, he said: “What seems to me to be significant is that at no point did the Respondent clearly put words into Thomas’ mouth that he knew it wasn’t Hewey on the bike or how he knew Hewey.
“The details of the conversation at the meeting seems to me to be equally consistent with a barrister honestly asking questions on the instruction of his client…as it is with the Respondent being party to an agreement to get Thomas to give false evidence at the retrial,” Justice Baker.
“Whilst it was extremely foolish of the Respondent to have agreed to meet with Thomas without first having notified the prosecution, which would no doubt have led to the presence of a prosecution representative, he did at least make a secret recording of the conversation.
“This seems to me to be inconsistent with a guilty state of mind and to be something that the jury would have to have had in mind when considering what inference to draw from that meeting.”
He concluded: “In my judgement the judge was correct in her approach and contrary to the submissions of Mr Mahoney did not trespass across the boundary into assessing the credibility of the Respondent’s evidence.”
At the end of the day he dismissed the Crown’s appeal. But he said: “Even on the most innocent interpretation, what occurred at the meeting on 14 September 2014 seems periously close to having breached this principle, if not having crossed the boundary.”
By Ceola Wilson
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