‘God’s with me’

Pow­ell walks as not-guilty ver­dict or­dered in X6 trial

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Livern Bar­rett Se­nior Gleaner Writer

JA­MAICA’S CHIEF pros­e­cu­tor Paula Llewellyn yes­ter­day con­firmed that the main eye­wit­ness in the so-called X6 mur­der trial, taxi driver Wayne Wright, gave tes­ti­mony that was “clearly dif­fer­ent” from the ac­count he gave po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors, but said she would not spec­u­late on what in­flu­enced his ac­tion.

Speak­ing to re­porters mo­ments af­ter the dra­matic col­lapse of the trial, which has gar­nered high public in­ter­est, Llewellyn de­scribed Wright’s tes­ti­mony in the Home Cir­cuit Court last week as un­for­tu­nate, and sug­gested that he do some soul-search­ing.

“I will not spec­u­late on why Mr Wright gave this ev­i­dence, which was clearly dif­fer­ent from what was in his state­ment. All I will say is that it is very, very un­for­tu­nate, it was very sad and I can only hope that one of these days he will in­tro­spect and per­haps in­tro­spect for the bet­ter,” she said.

“It would not be ap­pro­pri­ate for me to spec­u­late, cer­tainly pub­licly, as to what could have mo­ti­vated him,” Llewellyn added, min­utes af­ter Jus­tice Lloyd Hib­bert directed a seven-

mem­ber jury to re­turn a for­mal ver­dict of not guilty in the trial of busi­ness­man Pa­trick Pow­ell.

Pow­ell was on trial for mur­der and shoot­ing with in­tent aris­ing from the death of 17-year-old Kingston Col­lege stu­dent Kha­jeel Mais on July 1, 2011 in Haven­dale, St An­drew.

Lead pros­e­cu­tor Jeremy Tay­lor charged, at the start of the trial, that Mais was trav­el­ling in a taxi that hit a BMW X6, and that the driver of the luxury ve­hi­cle came out and fired sev­eral bul­lets into the car.

But following Wright’s tes­ti­mony last week, that he did not see any­one along High­land Drive af­ter the shoot­ing, and that he did not give po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­tails of the in­ci­dent or a de­scrip­tion of the shooter, Tay­lor called one ad­di­tional wit­ness yes­ter­day – Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Ver­nal Thomp­son – be­fore de­cid­ing to bring an end to the trial.

“The Crown will be of­fer­ing no fur­ther ev­i­dence against Mr Pow­ell,” Tay­lor told Hib­bert, ac­knowl­edg­ing that even with 16 more wit­nesses set to tes­tify, he would have dif­fi­culty plac­ing Pow­ell at the scene of the shoot­ing.

“Even if we were to put up all the cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, we would still need the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to an­chor the case,” he ex­plained, adding that only Wright could have given that ev­i­dence.

Following this, Hib­bert told ju­rors that there is “no ev­i­dence which could sat­isfy you that you could feel sure that this ac­cused man com­mit­ted the of­fences for which he is charged”.

“I will, there­fore, di­rect you to re­turn a ver­dict of not guilty,” he con­tin­ued.

Pow­ell showed no emo­tion as the ver­dict was an­nounced and told re­porters, as he left court: “I feel good. God is with me.”

Mais’ par­ents, Noel and Al­lana Mais, left with­out com­ment­ing.

Yes­ter­day, Llewellyn re­vealed that in the days lead­ing up to the start of the trial, Wright was “non-com­mu­nica­tive” with pros­e­cu­tors.

She said her of­fice reached out to him through the po­lice in an ef­fort to en­cour­age him to read over his wit­ness state­ment and be pre­pared ahead of the trial.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Llewellyn, the di­rec­tor of public pros­e­cu­tions (DPP), Wright re­sponded by telling the po­lice that he knew what he was go­ing to say.

“His stance, to the best of what I have been made aware by the po­lice, is that, cer­tainly, very re­cently, he would pre­fer not to say any­thing,” Llewellyn ex­plained.

She said Tay­lor also tried speak­ing to Wright, “but he main­tained this stance and in­di­cated that he will say what he has to say when he goes to court”.

Llewellyn said Tay­lor asked her to in­ter­vene, but this, too, was to no avail.

“So you hope for the best, but you can’t re­ally, in cases of this na­ture, be ab­so­lutely sure what a wit­ness is go­ing to say un­til he goes into the wit­ness box, be­cause his stance was non-com­mu­nica­tive in re­spect of what he was go­ing to say,” she said.

BRIBERY ‘RUB­BISHED’

In the mean­time, Queen’s Coun­sel Pa­trick Atkin­son, one of Pow­ell’s at­tor­neys, has la­belled as “rub­bish” claims in the public do­main that the con­tra­dic­tory ev­i­dence from the main wit­ness sug­gested that he may have been bribed.

“Ev­ery­body thought this was the first time he was say­ing he couldn’t iden­tify any­body. He said it in a state­ment dated the fifth of July, 2011 – the very first state­ment he gave,” Atkin­son told The Gleaner.

“This is why it is so im­por­tant when you re­port it, that you don’t mis­lead them (the public). Be­cause you mis­lead the public that this man sud­denly turned when he comes to give ev­i­dence so, there­fore, ev­ery­body thinks he must have been reached. It’s rub­bish! I don’t know who they say are try­ing to reach him, and they bet­ter be care­ful about that.”

Atkin­son said the po­lice should ex­plain why an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pa­rade in­volv­ing his client was called off.

Wright took the wit­ness stand last Thurs­day and tes­ti­fied that his taxi col­lided into a “high­back” ve­hi­cle that sud­denly ap­peared be­fore him in rainy and foggy con­di­tions.

When he was con­fronted by Tay­lor the following day with a state­ment in which he al­legedly gave In­spec­tor Ver­nal Thomp­son, de­tails of how the in­ci­dent un­folded and a de­scrip­tion of a man he saw with a gun, the taxi op­er­a­tor re­peat­edly de­nied it, in­clud­ing those de­tails in the state­ment he gave the po­lice.

Thomp­son, the sole wit­ness called yes­ter­day, tes­ti­fied that Wright vis­ited him at the Con­stant Spring Po­lice Sta­tion on July 8, 2011 and gave his state­ment vol­un­tar­ily.

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