Jamaica: Defence lawyer, witness in 2021 airport cocaine trial engage in war of words

As reported in the Gleaner

HEATED WORDS were exchanged on Friday as the lawyer for Indra Waite, the sole defendant now on trial for allegedly conspiring to smuggle more than 11 kilogrammes of cocaine on to a flight bound for Canada in 2021, called the capabilities of the prosecution’s police witness into question.

Waite is currently on trial before the St James Parish Court on charges of possession of criminal property and aiding and abetting.

She is charged in relation to an alleged attempt to sneak 11.4 kilogrammes on to a Canadian flight at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James on October 10, 2021.

During Friday’s cross-examination of the police witness, who previously gave evidence-in-chief on October 3 this year, Waite’s lawyer Henry McCurdy accused the witness of undermining his client’s rights, on the grounds that three sections of a question-and-answer document taken during an interview with Waite on October 29, 2021 were blank.

“Would you agree with me that the question-and-answer document is incomplete? Would you agree with me that there is some relevant information on the form that must be filled out?” asked McCurdy, before showing the document in question to the witness.

“The time when the interview commenced and the time it was completed are missing from the document. The offence (with which Waite is charged) is missing,” the witness admitted.

“Did you vet the document?” McCurdy demanded.

“Vetting the document is not my responsibility. I was the supervisor,” the witness replied testily.

“Can you tell the court, in all honesty, why these three important elements on the document were left out?” asked McCurdy.

“I cannot,” the witness answered.

McCurdy also accused the witness of not taking thorough steps to contact available lawyers as duty counsel to represent Waite before resorting to contacting two justices of the peace to observe that interview.

“If a lawyer is not available, you should call duty counsel. Did you exhaust the list of duty counsel?” asked McCurdy.

“I did not,” the witness replied.

“I put it to you that the only thing that was in your mind as a supervisor was to lock up some Jamaicans and to send a message,” McCurdy challenged the witness.

“I do not agree,” the witness fired back.

Meanwhile, presiding parish judge Sasha-Marie Ashley shot down the prosecution’s attempt to show the witness the caution statement, following McCurdy’s objection on the basis that the witness’ name was not on that document and there was therefore nothing to suggest that the witness was present for its completion.

Following the completion of the witness’ cross-examination, Judge Ashley extended Waite’s bail to November 9, when the trial will continue.

The allegations in the case are that, on October 10, 2021, a bag with 11.4 kilogrammes of cocaine, valued at $88.1 million, was placed onboard a Sun Wing aircraft which was scheduled to depart for Canada from Sangster International Airport.

The cocaine was intercepted at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Canada and one person was arrested in that country in relation to the seizure.

Waite was charged alongside three other defendants, Brelanie Reid, Tavon Murray, and Romaine Kerr, in relation to the investigation into the cocaine seizure.

Murray, who was charged with conspiracy to export cocaine, was freed at the start of the trial on November 16, 2022 after the prosecution dropped the conspiracy charge against all of the defendants.

Kerr, who was charged with possession of, dealing in, and attempting to export cocaine, was freed on July 4 this year due to the prosecution’s inability to present a solid case against him, while Reid, who was charged for breaching the Civil Aviation Act, was freed on September 7 following a no-case submission.

Source:  https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20231025/defence-lawyer-witness-2021-airport-cocaine-trial-engage-war-words

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