Aug 14, 2013 News
– did not inform court Nigel Hughes was once his lawyer
Justice Navindra Singh yesterday sent a strong warning to future jurors, after he barred for life the jury foreman who sat on the Lusignan massacre trial a few weeks ago. The judge took the position after juror Vernon Griffith failed to inform the court that he was once the client of Nigel Hughes.
Hughes during the trial had represented one of the defendants James Hyles called “Sally”. Hyles along with Mark Royden Williams were both found not guilty of eleven counts of murder, in relation to the 2008 incident in Lusignan, East Coast Demerara.
In a packed courtroom yesterday morning with other jurors who were waiting to be empanelled, Justice Singh asked Griffith whether he had worked at the National Bank for Industry and Commerce (now Republic Bank), and if he had filed a civil motion in the High Court.
According to Griffith, he did work there. Griffith took some time to actually come out and say that it was Nigel Hughes who had represented him.
After this revelation, the judge inquired from Griffith why he did not come forward with the information when the court was going through the process of eliminating jurors. Griffith in response said that he did not see it as a problem, since he did not know the lawyer personally. Justice Singh told the juror that he was lucky that the time had elapsed for him being charged for being in contempt of Court.
“What you did was highly improper and if you are to ever be called as a juror in any matter you will be jailed,” Justice Singh warned. The judge also made it clear to Griffith that if he is to change his address he should inform the court.
This newspaper understands that Griffith has sat on two other trials. Six years ago, Griffith, who was then employed with the National Bank for Industry and Commerce, was dismissed. He later filed civil action against the bank claiming wrongful dismissal. Kaieteur News understands that Hughes had represented him for approximately six years.
Justice Singh has signaled that the court will be conducting an investigation into the matter.
The Chambers for the Director of Public Prosecutions in their motion of appeal listed the grounds of appeal as Hughes failing to disclose to the trial judge that he had represented Griffith. Secondly, the DPP stated that Griffith also failed to disclose to the court that he had known Hughes.
According to the DPP, the non-disclosure by Hughes and Griffith is material and significant, given the fact that the commencement of the trial on July 15, last, before the jury was selected and empanelled, the learned judge specifically called out the names of all the attorneys involved in the case and told the entire panel that if they know or associated with any of the attorneys, they ought to indicate and would be excused. Both Hughes and Griffith remained silent, according to the DPP.
Meanwhile a senior police official has disclosed that the force will be conducting its own investigation. The official also disclosed that an arrest warrant has since been issued for James Hyles. Hyles is presently out on $1.1M bail pending the determination of the appeal.
On the morning of Saturday, January 26, 2008, gunmen stormed into the village of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, and murdered eleven people, including five children. Five families were affected by the killings.
Police believed that the gunmen who were armed with shotguns and AK-47s entered the village around 2:00 am, and invaded the homes of the five families. Within about 20 minutes eleven people were mercilessly slaughtered.
The victims were Clarence Thomas, 48, Vanessa Thomas, 12, Ron Thomas, 11, Mohandan Goordat, 32, Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Seegobin Harilall, 4; Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 52; Seecharran Rooplall, 56; Raywattie Ramsingh, 11; Shazam Mohammed, 22; and Shaleem Baksh, 52.
The mastermind of the massacre was believed to be Rondell “Fine man” Rawlins. The alleged motive for the attack was that Rawlins’ girlfriend, 19-year-old Tenisha Morgan, had vanished on January 18, 2008 while on her way to a city hospital to deliver her baby.
Rawlins believed that his girlfriend was kidnapped by law enforcement officials in an effort to force Rawlins to turn himself in. The Joint Services have categorically denied this claim.
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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