by JP Schwmon #SituationUpdates
The trial into allegations of criminal assault including the use of threatening language, unlawful firearm discharge and wounding which were laid against Senator Ashelle Morgan and Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Karim Nelson ground to a halt mere minutes after the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court reconvened on Thursday 18 November.
Before he read his findings to the Court, Magistrate Bertie Pompey opted to address an incidental issue that arose during submissions on the previous day. It concerned the admission of character evidence into the trial. He then chose to skip reading through the facts of the matter as he supposed they were familiar to all involved.
He began by stating: “It is the prosecution’s case that the second defendant, Ashelle Morgan, committed the offense of criminal assault on Cornelius John. The defense has denied this charge.
“The issue boils down to the virtual complainant’s word against the second defendant’s word. I prefer the evidence of the second defendant to that of the VC for the following reasons:
“One – the credibility of the VC compared to that of the second defendant; two – the VC’s wife testified she was at the time just across the road from the VC’s residence – ”
At this juncture S. Stephen Brette, St. Lucia’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, (who was hired to prosecute this case given that it revolved around a prominent member of the local courts) rose in apparent objection.
“Your Honor there is no evidence given by the second defendant… there is no evidence in this Court under oath from the second defendant,” Brette said.
Pompey explained that he was leaning on the senator’s denial that was introduced when the investigating officer, Corporal 858 Henry Hoyte, testified.
The magistrate continued his findings and highlighted that John’s wife shared testimony that put a tall man in her husband’s yard. She “was able to see when the tall man pushed her husband but did not see the second defendant, Ashelle Morgan, took out a gun and point it in the VC’s face.
“That is possible – you can see one thing and not the other; by way of comment.”
The fact that John did not report the alleged criminal assault “to the first responders in Rochel Franklyn and Sergeant Prescott” also ranked in the magistrate’s findings. Additionally, John’s failure to mention Senator Morgan’s use of expletives during the commission of the alleged criminal assault weighed against the prosecution’s case.
The magistrate found “that the criminal assault charge against Morgan cannot be sustained. She is therefore acquitted of criminally assaulting Cornelius John.”
Turning his attention to the cases that the Crown brought against ADPP Karim Nelson, Magistrate Pompey reflected, “there is no doubt in my mind that the VC sustained gunshot wounds to his left leg by someone on that fateful day. The question is who is that someone?
“Eleven witnesses testified on behalf of the Crown and at no time anyone of them was able to link the first defendant Karim Nelson to the offence of wounding Cornelius John.”
Mindful that the burden of proof rests squarely with the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, Magistrate Pompey declared: “there was not one iota of evidence linking the first defendant to the offence of wounding Cornelius John and discharging his firearm at him.
“I am absolutely in doubt as to who this tall man was. That being said both charges are therefore dismissed.”