Witness’ credibility a matter for the jury
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.
GREENOUGH V ECCLES
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.
PRICE V MANNING
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