Wit­ness’ cred­i­bil­ity a mat­ter for the jury

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

BTHE ED­I­TOR, Sir: ECAUSE FROM what I have seen and heard in the pub­lic do­main con­cern­ing the jus­ti­fi­ably widely pub­li­cised out­cry against the ac­cused walk­ing away by a not­guilty ver­dict or­dered in the X6 trial on the ba­sis that a wit­ness was hos­tile, I am im­pelled in the pub­lic in­ter­est to out­line some of what is con­tained in Cockle’s Cases and Statutes on Ev­i­dence, ninth edi­tion, pgs. 272 & 273.


Com­mon Pleas: 1859 Al­though a party call­ing a wit­ness may not dis­credit him gen­er­ally, even if he proves ad­verse or un­favourable, yet if he proves ac­tu­ally hos­tile, the party may, by leave of the judge, give ev­i­dence that the wit­ness has made a pre­vi­ous in­con­sis­tent state­ment.


Court of Ap­peal: 1889 It is in the dis­cre­tion of the judge whether a wit­ness shall be treated as hos­tile, even if the wit­ness is the op­pos­ing lit­i­gant, as when one party calls the other party as a wit­ness.

Did the ac­cused make pre­vi­ous in­con­sis­tent state­ments to the po­lice, the mother of the de­ceased or any­one else to trig­ger the in­volve­ment of the judge as to whether the wit­ness was to be treated as hos­tile in­stead of the di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) of­fer­ing no fur­ther ev­i­dence? Sup­pose, for ex­am­ple, there was ma­te­rial for de­ter­mi­na­tion by the pre­sid­ing judge as to whether the wit­ness was to be treated as hos­tile, wouldn’t the cred­i­bil­ity of the wit­ness be a mat­ter for the jury?

By the way, if the ac­cused was un­der a statu­tory duty to pro­duce his firearm, why wasn’t a court or­der sought to com­pel him? If his car was dam­aged in the im­pact, was there phys­i­cal ev­i­dence avail­able, any ev­i­dence that a firearm was dis­charged and the shell is from the same cal­i­bre of his firearm, and his re­fusal to de­liver his firearm con­tribut­ing to cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, not to men­tion where was he at the time when the im­pact oc­curred?

Over to Ms Paula Llewellyn, DPP of 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, as she re­peat­edly says. I think the late DPP Hunt­ley Mun­roe is turn­ing in his grave. Paula was not born to wit­ness Hunt­ley Mun­roe and as­sis­tant Crown Coun­sel L. Robotham pros­e­cut­ing and se­cur­ing con­vic­tions in the fa­mous Henry et al tri­als in which I was pro­fes­sion­ally en­gaged on spe­cial duty when a mem­ber of the force. OWEN S. CROS­BIE For­mer De­tec­tive, Sub-Of­fi­cer i/c Crime, Pros­e­cu­tor for both pub­lic and pri­vate Bars, At­tor­ney/Bar­ris­ter-at-Law

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