Jul 03, 2009 News
-”This court will recommend perjury charges for the three police officers who offered evidence”-Justice Ramlal
There was euphoria yesterday at the High Court after murder accused Ashanti “Blondie” Shultz walked out a free woman.
Justice William Ramlal ruled in the woman’s favour on a no-case submission by her Attorney Nigel Hughes.
Hughes brought to the court’s attention the poor evidence presented by the prosecution through Police Constable De Younge, Constable Sauers and Corporal Jackson.
Hughes further pointed to the fact that the Police Prosecutor as well as investigators suppressed evidence.
“The Police Prosecution, in the Magistrates’ Court, never saw it fit to produce…the statements of the four witnesses and more so the ballistics analysts’ report,” Hughes stated.
Hughes further spoke of the inconsistencies in the evidence given. He however alluded to the fact that in the High Court, Prosecutor Ganesh Hira made available all evidence and facts that were before him.
After listening to the Hughes’s submissions, which were made in the absence of the 12-member jury Justice Ramlal adjourned the court to re-enter his chambers to review the submissions.
After spending almost one hour in his chambers Justice Ramlal returned to the courtroom with his decision.
Before giving his decision Justice Ramlal pointed out to the courtroom, which was filled with family members of the accused and her supporters that he will read some remarks, which led him to his decision.
He first spoke of the sloppy investigation done by the police based on the evidence that was presented in court. He highlighted what was said by one of the police witnesses, prior to the accused being charged. The police had in their possession two written statements to the effect that Felecia Sheriff did the shooting, he recalled.
The Judge further sated that while the police had four eyewitnesses to the shooting and statements implicating Felicia in the shooting, there was never any confrontation with Sheriff and the four witnesses.
“Constable De Younge when asked why he did not hold a confrontation with Sheriff said in this court that he saw no legal reason for a confrontation.”
Justice Ramlal further pointed out to the court that throughout the trail De Younge’s evidence was inconsistent. More disturbing to the court the judge said, was De Younge during his cross examination, when asked why he did not charge Sheriff based on the amount of evidence before him, contended that he was not directed to do so.
“This boggles one’s mind as to how the charge was laid against the accused when there was no evidence pointing to her,” Justice Ramlal said.
He further pointed out that the Police Prosecutor in the Magistrates’ Court withheld crucial evidence to the case, which is to say, the statement of the four eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen Sheriff as the shooter.
“It is clear that the Prosecutor in the Magistrates’ Court misled the Magistrate who committed the accused to stand trial in the High Court,” Justice Ramlal said.
He added that the Office of The Director of Public Prosecution also failed to carry out its function, as it ought.
“This case clearly shows the recklessness and negligence of the Office of the DPP,” Justice Ramlal said.
Regarding the three police ranks that offered evidence in the court, Justice Ramlal said that his court would strongly recommend that the Force’s Administration charge Constables Sauers and De Younge and Corporal Jackson for perjury.
“Corporal Jackson, a few hours after the incident, swabbed the hands of the accused for gunpowder residue and the test results were negative yet he never saw it fit to produce the result in his evidence.”
“This court will strongly recommend the perjury charge and also the facts will be presented to the Force and just so you know the penalty if convicted on that charge is life imprisonment,” Justice Ramlal told the ranks whom he addressed in open court.
The judge further told the court that this case was done contrary to every conceivable principal of fairness.
“They (the investigators) had reasonable evidence pointing to Sheriff as the shooter,” Ramlal noted.
He added that the prosecution’s case rested mainly on Constable De Younge’s evidence, which was grossly unreliable and conflicting.
The judge further stated that this case clearly shows the poor quality of investigative work often done by the Guyana Police Force.
“I would also recommend an obstruction of justice charge and perverting the course of justice charge, but I have my reservations,” Ramlal said.
Justice Ramlal then said that based on the facts before him he would rule in favor of the defence and ordered the jury to formally return a not guilty verdict.
Meanwhile in his address to the accused, before discharging the matter, Justice Ramlal said that based on the fact presented in court it appears that she frequents the nightspots.
“If this is so it does not say much for your character as a mother…you need to take a look at your lifestyle and change your circle of friends.”
Family members were overwhelmed with tears of joy and as Shultz walked a free woman out of the courtroom.
In February, 27-year-old Shultz was committed by Magistrate Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, in the Magistrates’ Court to stand trial for the murder of Kenrick Nero.
It was reported that Shultz and other women were involved in an argument, when she allegedly went to her car and took out the weapon.
She then allegedly fired shots in a wild manner, hitting Nero who died, and two other men, but missed her intended target.
Nero was said to be sitting next to a ticket booth close to the New Court Yard Restaurant and Bar when he was hit.
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