September 19, 2020

JUST AND FAIR DECISION: Devon’s mom says acquittal was correct

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In an emotional post-verdict interview yesterday, the mother of Devon Anglin, acquitted of murder in the Grand Court, detailed her private anguish at the trial and public vilification of her son.

“The last 18 months have been the most intense period of my life,” she told iNews. “And on Wednesday, I was able to breathe a breath of relief with the acquittal of my son Devon Anglin of the murder of Jeremiah Barnes.

“The Barnes family have my deepest condolences on the loss of their child,” she said.

Ms Anglin attended daily throughout the 12-day judge-alone trial by visiting Jamaican Justice Howard Cooke, hearing testimony by Andy Barnes and Dorlisa Ebanks, parents of 4-year-old murder victim Jeremiah Barnes.

Finding their statements to be “wholly unreliable” Justice Cooke on Wednesday acquitted Mr Anglin of murder and related counts of attempted murder, assault, possession of an unlicensed firearm and threatening violence.

“I sat in that courtroom every day. I saw and heard the evidence, and there is no doubt in my mind that the judge made a just and fair return of the verdict,” Ms Anglin said.

“It is important that the people of this country understand that the verdict arrived at was a verdict derived from evidence that was presented to the court by the crown. The crown presented its witnesses and experts. The judge relied on the guidance of both the prosecutor and the QC at times to ensure that the guidelines, laws, principles and directives were all in proper order and adhered to.

“The fact that the judge returned an acquittal was beyond his control. He could only make his decision based on the evidence presented to him and his decision was fair, unbiased and a great relief to my son, my family and myself,” she said.

“However, the judge’s decision was based on the obvious contradictions of evidence provided by witnesses and also on the advices of the prosecutor that if the eyewitness testimony was worthless then the entire case would have to be discarded. The judge upheld the law,” Ms Anglin said, referring to Friday’s final testimony.

Asking “what the position would be”, if the identification of Mr Anglin by both Mr Barnes and Ms Ebanks were discounted, Justice Cooke heard from prosecutor Andrew Radcliffe, QC, that “it would be as if they had not given evidence at all, and we would accept there would be insufficient evidence to convict”.

“Again, I will ask for peace in this country,” Ms Anglin said. “Violence begets violence and there are no beneficiaries of violent acts. There are those in this country who are of the opinion that my son is guilty. And they are entitled to that opinion. I KNOW that my son is innocent.”

Changing gears, Ms Anglin challenged post-verdict remarks by Commissioner of Police David Baines, who said Justice Cooke had missed out a section of evidence in his summation, and that he and Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards would review the judgment “with a view to an appeal”.

“I must address certain statements made in the media, particularly that of Commissioner Baines,” Ms Anglin said. “Yes, it was a sorrowful day for the Barnes family. They did not get the verdict that they hoped for. But should a judge have returned a verdict against evidence simply to appease
the populace?

“If your answer to that is ‘yes’, then we can abolish the judicial system. What Mr. Baines did with his remarks regarding the judge and judgment was to throw a hatchet into the judicial machinery of this country. Mr. Baines would have done much better to follow suit of myself and Mrs. Ebanks’ (the grandmother), calling for peace, and leaving the legal matters to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Instead he made inflammatory and prejudicial remarks.

“Mr. Baines also acknowledged to me that he was aware of the tensions in the community and that his call for an appeal ‘would bring a sense of justice to community and help to alleviate the risk of retribution to you’. By  ‘you’, he meant me.

“In other words, Mr. Baines feels that his role is to put my son back on trial so that he does not have to arrest those who have in the past — and even as recently as yesterday — threatened my life. This is not an acceptable approach to curtailing, preventing crime in this country.

“As far as a sense of justice is concerned, it has been served. There is a procedure through which offences are managed. It starts with the complaint and it ends with the verdict. In between there is the investigation. If there has been any fault in these proceedings it must lie in the investigation; a point which cannot be overlooked, as that was also proven in court also with the [gunshot residue] contamination of my son’s clothing.

“But Mr. Baines, in my opinion, in this case, has served well to incite violence in this country — to increase the chances of retribution against me and question the very foundation of our judicial system.

“As the supreme law-enforcement officer, Mr. Baines should have approached this matter in a professional manner, encouraging the maintenance of peace and order,” Ms Anglin said.

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