DPP appeals acquittal of accused in fatal Turning Point shooting

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has appealed the recent acquittal of murder accused Edward Skeete and Nabadingi Gobin, saying that the alleged dying declaration made by the deceased should have been admitted into evidence.

Skeete, known as “Pretty Boy,” and Gobin, called “Dangles,” had been charged with the July 24th, 2015 murder of Ryan Clementson, who was reportedly shot near the Turning Point Snackette in Tucville.

At the conclusion of a voir dire, which was being conducted during their trial, Justice Navindra Singh ruled that the state had presented insufficient evidence against the men for the capital indictment.

In its appeal, however, the DPP is arguing that the judge “erred in law by excluding the statement made by the deceased which the prosecution sought to adduce into evidence.”

According to the DPP, the judge found that the statement made by the deceased before he died did not amount to a dying declaration and was therefore inadmissible in evidence as it amounted to hearsay.

In its notice of appeal, dated February 21st, 2018, the DPP is contending that Justice Singh made a legal error when he found that “the absence of urgency” on the part of police officers to whom the deceased is alleged to have reported he would die, led to the inescapable conclusion that neither they nor the deceased believed that that he “was going to die at that moment.”

The DPP is arguing that it is immaterial whether the persons present believed that the deceased was going to die.

What was important, the DPP argues, was that “the deceased believed himself to be in a dying state when he made the declaration.”

According to the prosecution, the evidence disclosed that while the deceased was giving his statement to the police, he told the police words to the effect, that “his whole body was in pain and that he wanted to see his family because he knew he was going to die.”

The DPP said that the evidence further disclosed that at the end of the statement, the deceased told Detective Constable Akeem Lewis that “he knew he was not going to make it.”

It is arguing that when the statement is examined in its entirety, the words used by the deceased led to the inescapable conclusion that he had abandoned all hope of life, “and therefore had a settled hopeless expectation of death at the time.”

A date is yet to be fixed by the Court of Appeal for the application to be heard.

Upon the directions of the trial judge, a jury on February 8th returned formal not guilty verdicts, thereby setting the men free.

The state thereafter gave oral notice of its intention to appeal.

Prosecutor Tiffini Lyken had said that while Clementson was shot on July 14th, he succumbed to his injuries 10 days later at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Lance Corporal Colwyn Major had testified to accompanying Clementson on the journey to the hospital, during which he said he questioned the injured man about who had shot him.

During the trial, Lewis had also testified to questioning Clementson regarding who had shot him.

He had told the court of visiting the now dead man while he was still a patient of the hospital, and during an interview, he, (Clementson), when asked, mentioned the names and aliases of three persons, whom he said inflicted the injuries on him.

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