Wednesday 15 July, 2020

BDF Court Martial: Request for mistrial denied

During the second day of the Court Martial trial of Lieutenant David Harewood, a police sergeant was cautioned for her conduct on the stand and the defence made an application for a mistrial.

These were just some of the highlights in the matter which sees Harewood facing four charges- two counts which suggest he communicated with the enemy. It is alleged that Harewood knowingly communicated with Akem Waithe aka “Ellis” between August 7 and 10, 2018, via a BDF cellphone and that sometime in January 2018, he knowingly communicated with a known drug trafficker.

He is additionally accused of ‘conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline’ and of ‘neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline’. The latter charge alleges that Harewood failed to inform his superiors of a threat to a fellow officer - OS Marlon Scott while the former allege that he conducting unauthorised information-gathering operations, conduct unbecoming of a commissioned officer in the BDF. 

Prosecution witness police constable Dale-ann Wilkinson was the fifth witness to take the stand for the Crown. Wilkinson made a statement in respect of a phone number suspected to be linked to Harewood.

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The prosecutor, Lieutenant Jamar Bourne, sought to question some inconsistencies in that statement regarding her relationship with Harewood. He also queried about a sim card she bought for him.

However, his line of questioning caused some concern for the panel and the defence. Both the panel and defence thought the prosecutor was cross-examining his witness instead of leading evidence.

The court said that a certain procedure had to be followed if Wilkinson was to be treated as a hostile witness. The prosecutor in failing to lay the foundation for the witness to be considered a hostile witness resulted in the questioning ending prematurely. It was Wilkinson’s response in respect of some of the prosecution’s questions that caused Judge Advocate Neville Watson to caution her conduct on the stand. 

At another stage in the case, the defence counsel asked for a mistrial in respect of information he claimed was not provided to the defence.

This call came during the evidence of Ward Officer Christopher Blenman; one of the two lead investigators in the Harewood case. Blenman said a statement had been taken from OS Tyrell Gibbons – which the defence said they never received.

After Blenman told the court that the statement was “interrelated”, agreeing with the defence that it was related to Harewood, Watson revisited previous arguments regarding lack of full disclosure on the prosecution’s part.

The prosecution said, however, that the document Blenman referred to was not really a statement but questions and answers from an interview process.

Bourne said the prosecution did not possess a statement and the court ruled against the mistrial.

“If there is no statement then there is no need for full disclosure…if the prosecution is relying on such information…how would it prejudice the case?” President Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Johnson.  

Evidence from Blenman also suggested that he was not aware that Harewood was authorized to gather any information regarding persons involved in illegal activities and that Harewood did not report such information to any authority in the BDF.

The matter is being heard at the BDF Headquarters before a six member panel including President Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Johnson and Judge advocate Neville Watson.

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