(Jamaica Observer) Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn said the decision to charge broadcaster Wayne Whyte with wounding with intent and illegal possession of firearm, instead of attempted murder in the shooting of his co-worker Jody Ann Gray, was made in the interest of justice.
Llewellyn gave the explanation in an address to the Kiwanis Club of Kingston a few hours after Whyte and his co-accused Safari Farr appeared in the Spanish Town Resident Magistrate’s (RM) Court yesterday.
Both men will, however, make their second court appearance on April 27 before the Gun Court where trials are held in camera.
Noting that both charges of wounding with intent and attempted murder carry a similar penalty, the DPP insisted that this is just one example of the balancing act that prosecutors have to perform in respect of every single matter that is prosecuted.
According to the DPP, the police consulted with her office and were given the legal range of options by which they could be guided, given the nature of the case.
In this particular case, Llewellyn said the ingredients to prove wounding with intent are quite simple, with the prosecutor having to determine an intention to cause grievous bodily harm and also that when the particular projectile entered the victim there was a wound.
There is also the issue of establishing possession of a firearm, and this will be done by a judge alone in the Gun Court instead of a panel of jurors.
Whyte, a broadcaster at Kool FM, and Farr were remanded into custody yesterday by Senior Magistrate Marcia Dunbar-Green.
Whyte, Farr and another man were arrested by the police minutes after a gun attack on Gray, who is also a broadcaster at Kool FM, two weeks ago at her home at Cedar Grove in Portmore, St Catherine.
Gray, who is seven months pregnant, was shot in the face and shoulder.
Police say that Whyte, who is believed to be the father of Gray’s unborn child, and the two men were held by cops as they allegedly fled the scene in a motor car registered to a woman who shared Whyte’s surname and with its licence plates covered with cardboard.
“If we had gone the route of attempted murder, which has similar ingredients, although the mental element may be a little bit more onerous to prove, what you will have is a situation where the complainant will have to give her evidence twice — once at the preliminary enquiry and second at the trial before the jury,” Llewellyn told the Kiwanis at their weekly luncheon meeting at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.
The DPP said that because the case involves two well-known media personalities, prosecutors have to look at the interest of justice, where the accused is entitled — as a matter of law and under our Constitution — to a fair trial, and the complainant is also entitled to give her evidence in an environment where she will not feel intimidated.
She added that the best option in the interest of justice had to be taken.
“In that open court scenario you can imagine the media hype that will be around this type of situation,” she declared.
“What is a poor juror to do …although the judge will tell the juror ‘do not have any regard to anything that is said out of these four walls’ we know that would be very difficult,” she said.
Additionally, Llewellyn pointed to the impact the media hype may have on the accused and the complainant, who are both members of the media fraternity.
“I am sure some of their colleagues will be quite conflicted in reporting on this matter,” she added.
Yesterday, in the Spanish Town RM Court, the media was unable to hear further details of the allegations as Whyte’s attorney, Christopher Townsend, asked the magistrate to clear the courtroom and air the matter privately.
Townsend, when quizzed about the allegations as outlined by the Crown against his client, would only say, “There are differences”.
Tameka Harris and Kaysian Kelly are also representing Whyte, while Bert Samuels and Roxanne Mars are representing Farr.
Gray is recuperating in hospital following surgery to remove a bullet which was lodged in her throat.